Monday, December 20, 2010

UN Security Council extends Ivory Coast mission

By MARCO CHOWN OVED and EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press


ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – The U.N. Security Council extended its peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast on Monday, hours after the United Nations' top envoy in the West African country said armed men had been threatening staff in their homes.
Laurent Gbagbo's refusal to concede defeat in last month's election and his demand that peacekeepers leave have raised fears that U.N. personnel and other foreigners could be targeted in violence. Over the weekend, masked gunmen opened fire on the U.N. base there, though no one from the global body was harmed in the attack. Two military observers were wounded in another attack.

"Armed men have been coming to the personal houses of United Nations employees, asking them to leave and searching their houses under the pretext of looking for arms," U.N. Special Representative Choi Young-jin said at a news conference in Abidjan.

A spokesman for Gbagbo in Paris on Monday said he doubted soldiers or those supporting Gbagbo would be involved in such tactics.

Gbagbo has ordered the U.N. peacekeeping force to leave Ivory Coast, claiming it is biased in favor of opposition leader Alassane Ouattara. The U.N. and the international community recognize Ouattara as the victor of last month's presidential runoff vote.

The U.N. has refused to leave, and the Security Council resolution adopted unanimously Monday extended the mandate of the 8,650-strong force until June 30, 2011.

"Members of the Security Council warn all stakeholders that they will be held accountable for attacks against civilians and peacekeepers and will be brought to justice in accordance with international law and international humanitarian law," said a statement read at the end of the meeting by U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice, the current council president.

The council also extended the temporary deployment of up to 500 additional personnel until March 31, and extends by four weeks the temporary redeployment of three infantry companies and an aviation unit from Liberia to Ivory Coast.

The council resolution stepped up pressure on Gbagbo to concede defeat, and urged all Ivorian parties and stakeholders "to respect the will of the people and the outcome of the election" in view of the recognition of Ouattara by the African Union and the West African regional group ECOWAS.

The U.S. State Department on Sunday ordered most of its personnel to leave Ivory Coast because of the deteriorating security situation and growing anti-Western sentiment.

The U.N. says more than 50 people have been killed in recent days, and that it has received hundreds of reports of people being abducted from their homes at night by armed assailants in military uniforms. U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said there is growing evidence of "massive violations of human rights."

Toussaint Alain, an adviser for Gbagbo, said he didn't believe soldiers or people close to Gbagbo would carry out such acts.

"The U.N. is trying to manipulate public opinion and is looking for a pretext for a military intervention," he told The AP in Paris. He blamed possible kidnappings on supporters of his opponent, disguised in military uniforms.

The U.N. had been invited by the country itself to supervise the vote and certify the outcome following a peace accord after Ivory Coast's 2002-2003 civil war. But in a statement read on state television Saturday, a Gbagbo spokeswoman said that 9,000 U.N. peacekeepers and another 900 French troops supporting them were to leave immediately.

Gbagbo accuses the U.N. mission of backing Ouattara and arming rebels who support him.

About 800 U.N. peacekeepers are protecting the hotel from which Ouattara is trying to govern the country. They are, in turn, encircled by Gbagbo's troops. On Monday, the U.N. said the hotel had been completely blockaded and that people inside had not been able to get needed medication.

Meanwhile, the European Union said Monday it would impose an assets freeze and a visa ban on Gbagbo and his wife after a Sunday deadline for him to step down elapsed.

Gbagbo's adviser said Europe should not interfere.

"Europe must understand that this is not the colonial period," said Alain, Gbagbo's adviser for EU relations. "Or if Europe wants to colonize Ivory Coast, if Europe wants to subdue Ivory Coast, then let's be clear about it and we'll become European citizens."

The United States is also preparing to impose additional sanctions on Gbagbo in "the coming days," said U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

"Meanwhile, we are distressed to learn the extent of the abuses being perpetrated by masked militants in Cote d'Ivoire. We're told abductions are occurring and discovery of possible mass graves in Abidjan. We deplore the use of violence and call for Ivoirians to remain calm and peaceful," Crowley said during a briefing in Washington.

Sanctions, though, have typically failed to reverse illegal power grabs in Africa in the past.

Ivory Coast was once an economic hub because of its role as the world's top cocoa producer. The civil war split the country in a rebel-controlled north and a loyalist south. While the country officially reunited in a 2007 peace deal, Ouattara still draws his support from the northern half of the country where he was born while Gbagbo's power base is in the south.

Gbagbo claimed victory in the presidential election only after his allies threw out half a million ballots from Ouattara strongholds in the north, a move that infuriated residents there who have long felt they are treated as foreigners in their own country by southerners.

Gbagbo has also hired prominent American lawyer Lanny Davis apparently as part of an effort to help resolve the situation.

At a press conference Monday, Davis said that he was not asked to determine who won but to evaluate fairly "all the facts regarding the Nov. 28 election."
___
Lederer reported from the United Nations. Associated Press writers Gabriele Steinhauser in Brussels, Belgium, Matt Lee and William C. Mann in Washington and Angela Doland in Paris contributed to this report.

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Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah



Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah

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