Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Nigerian Embassy in Ivory Coast attacked

The Nigerian embassy in Cote d'Ivoire was, yesterday, attacked by yet to be identified armed groups in Abidjan.

This came after West African leaders led by President Goodluck Jonathan asked embattled President Laurent Gbagbo to step down from power. Nigeria had offered to harbour Gbagbo should he agree to go into exile.

Following the attack, Nigeria has evacuated all its diplomats from that country saying it will bring out its other citizens there.

Foreign Minister, Odein Ajumogobia, told reporters, yesterday: "Arrangements are also being made to evacuate Nigerian citizens in that country. We had to evacuate all our diplomats because our embassy in Cote d'Ivoire was attacked."

Cote d'Ivoire is locked in a dispute after incumbent Laurent Gbagbo claimed victory in the presidential election on November 28 which the outside world says was won by rival Alassane Ouattara.

Ajumogobia did not say when the attack on the embassy took place or who carried it out.

Pro_Gbagbo security forces used live rounds, last Thursday, to put down street protests by Ouattara supporters but Gbagbo's government has denied using excessive force.

West African leaders, however, urged Gbagbo to "yield power with dignity without further delay," weeks after the country's disputed presidential runoff vote as international pressure mounted on him to step down. The regional bloc, ECOWAS, said Gbagbo's demand that thousands of United Nations peacekeepers leave the volatile country "would further heighten tensions and worsen the plight of the vulnerable."

The UN refugee agency said, yesterday, that some 6,200 people already have fled the country's post-election violence. The rebuke from neighbouring nations carries added weight because Gbagbo's representatives have dismissed similar calls from former colonizer France and other Western nations as foreign interference.

Also, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Aliyu Idi Hong, told the BBC that it would be willing to let Gbagbo go into exile in Nigeria. But an ally of Gbagbo has warned UN peacekeepers they could be treated as rebels if they remained in the country after being told to leave.

Gbagbo accuses the UN of siding with his rival Alassane Ouattara and ordered them out of the country.

The UN says Ouattara won last month's poll and has urged all parties to recognise him as president. It has extended the mandate of its 10,000_strong force by six months.

Gbagbo's Interior Minister, Emile Guirieoulou, said of the UN mission: "If, against our will, they want to keep this force in our country, we won't co_operate with them. And if they choose to have authorities other than the legal authorities of the country, they become part of the rebellion."

He also dismissed reports of a mass grave in the main city Abidjan, stressing "It's lies. All that to get some sympathy."

On Monday, UN special envoy to Ivory Coast Choi Young-jin said the UN had been prevented from investigating the reports. The UN also says it has received hundreds of reports of people being abducted by armed men at night. Some have later been found dead.

The United Nations, France, the United States, the European Union, the African Union and West African regional bloc ECOWAS have urged Gbagbo to admit defeat and step down.

ECOWAS heads of state are due to meet on Friday in the Nigerian capital Abuja to discuss developments in Ivory Coast.


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