Ivory Coast army chief seeks SA refuge


Cote d’Ivoire’s Chief of Army, Phillippe Mangou, has sought refuge at the home of the South African Ambassador as bloodshed continues in that country. The Department of International Relations says in a statement that Mangou, his wife and five children arrived at the ambassador’s home in Abidjan on Wednesday night.

The department’s spokesman, Clayson Monyela, said South Africa is consulting with relevant parties in Ivory Coast, West African regional leaders, African Union and the UN on Mangou’s move, the state BuaNews agency says. Mangou sought refuge as the fight continues to install Ivory Coast’s democratically elected president. Rebels have been up in arms since President Laurent Gbagbo was defeated five months ago by rival Alassane Ouattara in a UN-certified election. Gbagbo has refused to step down.

Since then, up to one million people have either been displaced within the West African nation or fled to neighbouring countries. Nearly 500 people have reportedly been killed. Reacting to Wednesday’s UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to violence against civilians and imposing sanctions on Gbagbo, his wife and three associates, Monyela said South Africa backed all regional moves to resolve the crisis, including the AU’s firm recognition of Ouattara as the winner of the 2010 presidential elections. “South Africa believes that the Economic Community of West African States, the AU and UN should persist in their quest to find a peaceful political solution to the current crises,” said Monyela.

The ministry believed this was the only sustainable approach to restore national reconciliation, unity, democracy and good governance.

The measure by UNSC called on Gbagbo to step down and condemned the recent escalation of violence throughout the country and said it could amount to crimes against humanity. However, it did not refer the case to the International Criminal Court, BuaNews said.

In a separate statement the department said “South Africa voted in favour of Resolution 1975 (2011) as the resolution is fully in line with the roadmap outlined by the African Union (AU), as it calls for an end to hostilities, the protection of civilians and for the parties to implement the political solution endorsed by the African Union.”

The resolution also strengthens the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire by allowing it to protect civilians under the imminent threat of physical violence while impartially implementing its mandate. South Africa has expressed concerns over the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Côte d’Ivoire, adding that the indiscriminate violence and human suffering would have serious regional consequences.
“The continued senseless killing of civilians, threats and acts of intimidation as well as the rising numbers of refugees is a serious violation of human rights. We call on all parties to put an end to this and avoid further escalation of hostilities,” the statement said. South Africa called on the Economic Community of West African States, the AU and UN to persist in their efforts to find a peaceful political solution, warning Côte d’Ivoire was rapidly sliding back into a civil war.

A political solution, aimed at restoring national reconciliation and unity, democracy, good governance was the only sustainable approach to ensuring long term stability in Cote d’Ivoire, it added. “In this regard, the African Union Peace and Security Council Summit during the recent meeting of 10 March endorsed the recommendations of its High Level Panel on the overall political solution to the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire. The AU reaffirmed its recognition of the election of Mr. Alassane Ouattara as the President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire,” the department said.