Saturday

13th Aug 2022

EU maintains support for Ivory Coast president-elect

  • Former Ivory Coast PM Alassane Ouattara (right) being interviewed in 2008. Ouattara was the declared winner of presidential elections in 2010 (Photo: BBC)

The European Union has warned of an increased threat of violence in the Ivory Coast but continues to back President-elect Alassane Ouattara, despite reports that his supporters may be responsible for the deaths of up to 1,000 people in the west African state last week.

At the same time, the number of refugees escaping the violence which follows disputed presidential elections last November has continued to escalate, placing pressure on neighbouring countries such as Liberia.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

"Across Côte d'Ivoire violence is growing, with mounting civilian casualties and over a million people fleeing their homes in search of safety," EU commissioner for humanitarian aid Kristalina Georgieva said on Monday afternoon (4 April).

"I am alarmed by the reports about man-hunts and ethnic killings. I am also concerned by the spill-over impact of this conflict ... Over 120,000 refugees are flocking into poor areas where their hosts were already living on the verge of a humanitarian crisis," she added.

Despite losing last year's election, the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, has refused to step down, prompting EU and UN sanctions and outbreaks of violence in a country previously known for its prosperous cocoa industry.

An African Union-imposed deadline of 24 March for the handover of power passed with no signs of Gbagbo backing down, prompting pro-Ouattara forces to sweep down from their northern strongholds a few days later in a relentless march towards the seat of power in Abidjan.

Since then Pro-Ouattara troops have been massing just outside Abidjan amid talk of a final push.

France's 12,000 citizens in the former colony have been asked to move to three places of refugee on a voluntary basis, a "prerequisite for a potential evacuation", a French diplomat told this website on Monday.

A Gbagbo spokesman on Sunday said French nationals could become a legitimate target, calling the French soldiers an "occupation force". France sent an additional 150 soldiers to Côte d'Ivoire on Monday, bringing the country's total to 1,650.

In Brussels, a senior EU official said the threat of more violence was increasing after the two sides appeared to have reached a stalemate.

"Following the very rapid advance of forces loyal to President Ouattara ... we appeared to have reached a temporary stalemate in Abidjan, with an escalating level of violent conflict in which heavy arms are being used and civilians are clearly being caught in the cross-fire."

One EU citizens was killed by a stray bullet last week.

"It is not safe to move in Abidjan. We do not recommend people to try to get to a point of evacuation," continued the EU official, describing information surrounding the reported killing of up to 1,000 Côte d'Ivoire citizens near the town of Duekoue last week as "murky".

Ouattara has denied reports that his followers were responsible for the killings, and says the number of deaths has been grossly exaggerated. Last week, the ICRC said 800 were killed, with Catholic aid agency Caritas subsequently putting the figure at 1,000. The UN however has also disputed the high figures and is carrying out an investigation.

Until that investigation is complete, the EU will continue to back Ouattara, said the EU official. The BBC on Monday described roads in the area as being lined with body-bags, "every hundred yards or so, waiting to be collected" by the Red Cross.

Tensions between the country's muslim-dominated citizens and the south have rumbled on for many years, with a 2002 offensive by northern soldiers only prevented from capturing Abidjan by French and UN forces. Tribal tensions have also existed, with the UN blaming traditional hunters, known as Dozos, for the Duekoue killings.

Despite the threat of further violence, the West appears to have ruled out a Libya-style intervention for the moment.

Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey

The Swedish government has agreed to extradite a Turkish citizen with Kurdish roots wanted for credit card fraud to Turkey, amid the backdrop of Turkey's Nato threat.

Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties

Beijing's club was meant to forge stronger European relations. Lithuania left it last year. Now Estonia and Latvia have also decided to walk over Chinese bullying.

EU hopeful of Iran nuclear deal

A possible deal to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear pact is within reach, says the European Union. Washington backs the final proposals, but Tehran remains cautious.

Opinion

Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy

The Belgian parliament's recent decision to ratify its prisoner-exchange treaty with Iran is a grave mistake, and one which exemplifies the many downfalls of dealing with Iran's human-rights abuses on a case-by-case basis.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us