18 September 2006

Secretary-General Deeply Concerned about "Serious Tension" in Côte d'Ivoire, as Country Nears End of Transition in October

NEW YORK, 15 September (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned about the increase in inflammatory rhetoric in Côte d'Ivoire, which is fuelling serious tension as the country approaches the end of the transition period in the end of October.  Already, the tragic consequences of the recent dumping of toxic waste in Abidjan, a few weeks ago, has created serious problems and resulted in a number of violent incidents.

In this context, the Secretary-General regrets the reported statement made by President Laurent Gbagbo yesterday, rejecting the peace process, which was developed by the Ivorian leaders themselves, together with their international partners, over the past three years.  The Secretary-General is concerned that these and other similar statements could further aggravate the situation in the country, with unpredictable consequences.  The Ivorian leaders should be aware of their responsibilities towards their people and the international community for maintaining peace in the country.

The Secretary-General strongly urges all the Ivorians to exercise restraint at this critical stage, and hopes that President Laurent Gbagbo will respond positively to his invitation to join the regional leaders, including the chairmen of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States, as well as Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny and other Ivorian political leaders, at the high-level meeting that will take place in New York on 20 September to discuss the way forward in Côte d'Ivoire.

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