Alain Le Roy, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, met with Ivorian president-elect Alassane Ouattara, expressing the UN mission’s support in Cote d’Ivoire. This is after the West African country plunged into political uncertainty when its outgoing leader, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to stand down after losing the November 28 election.
“As head of peacekeeping operations, my first objective is to come and support our missions, especially when they face particularly delicate moments as is now the case in Cote d’Ivoire,” Le Roy told reporters after metting Ouattara and his team in Abidjan, the commercial capital of Cote d’Ivoire.
“UNOCI [UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire] is facing a population and political leaders who are partially hostile to its presence,” Mr. Le Roy added. He said the UN will continue to provide support to UNOCI to ensure that it fully and firmly fulfils its mandate.
“President Ouattara found that UNOCI was fulfilling its mandate satisfactorily but said, however, that there were still improvements to be made,” Mr. Le Roy said, stressing that the UN mission was not at war with anyone in the country. “We protect civilians as impartially as possible because we have to protect civilians whoever they are, whatever their political affiliation or ethnic group,” Mr. Le Roy added.
Asked whether he might meet Gbagbo, Le Roy said that he had requested a meeting and was awaiting response. Cote d’Ivoire, the world’s largest cocoa exporter, was split by civil war in 2002 into a Government-controlled south and a rebel-held north. UNOCI has been supporting reunification through peacekeeping efforts, of which November’s vote, which was delayed for five years, was a crucial step.