1 April 2011
South Africa has given its support to a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an immediate end to the violence against civilians in Cote d’Ivoire and imposing targeted sanctions on Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to step down as president since losing elections in November.
“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 Department of International Relations and Cooperation said on Thursday.
The resolution also strengthens the United Nations operation in Cote d’Ivoire by allowing it to protect civilians under the imminent threat of physical violence while impartially implementing its mandate.
Gbagbo’s refusal to hand over power after Alassane Ouattara was pronounced the winner of the November 2010 polls has plunged Cote d’Ivoire into crisis.
South Africa has expressed concerns over the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation in Cote d’Ivoire, adding that the 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,” the department said. “We call on all parties to put an end to this and avoid further escalation of hostilities.”
South Africa called on the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas), the AU and UN to persist in their efforts to find a peaceful political solution, warning that Cote d’Ivoire was rapidly sliding back into a civil war.
A political solution, aimed at restoring national reconciliation and unity, democracy and good governance was the only sustainable approach to ensuring long-term stability in Cote d’Ivoire, it added.
The UN Security Council resolution was passed on the same day that fighters supporting Cote d’Ivoire’s internationally recognized president, Alassane Ouattara, seized Yamoussoukro, the nation’s administrative capital.
“The Security Council demands an immediate end to the violence against civilians, including women, children and internally displaced persons, and urges all the Ivorian parties and stakeholders to respect the will of people and the election of Alassane Dramane Ouattara as president of Cote d’Ivoire,” the resolution read.
The resolution adopted sanctions targeted at Gbagbo, his wife Simone Gbagbo, his close adviser Alcide Djedje, and two other close associates. The sanctions include a travel ban and assets freeze.
The Security Council condemned Gbagbo’s decision not to accept the overall political solution proposed by the high-level panel put in place by the African Union, and urged him to “immediately step aside”.
Tensions are running high in the country, with rebels backing Ouattara reportedly involved in fighting near the headquarters of the state-run television corporation.
Forces backing Ouattara have swept across Cote d’Ivoire this week, seizing cities and towns and facing only minor resistance from Gbagbo’s security.
The United Nations said on Thursday that at least 494 people have been killed since the political crisis began in early December. It says up to one million people have been displaced, with thousands fleeing west to Liberia or east to Ghana.