West African nations remain prepared to use force to dislodge Laurent Gbagbo from the presidential palace in Ivory Coast, but there will be no civil war, the country’s UN ambassador said Tuesday.
Al Jazeera is reporting that Gbagbo’s arch-rival, Alassane Ouattara, has rejected an offer from Laurent Gbagbo, incumbent president, to take up the role of vice-president.
The offer was made on Tuesday during mediation efforts, the network reports.
The use of force is being studied, the Ivory Coast’s ambassador to the UN Youssoufou Bamba, told AFP in an interview. “There are several measures planned under the UN Charter, including the use of force,”
Bamba was appointed to the UN headquarters by Ouattara, who has been recognized by the international community as Ivory Coast’s leader. He has been pressing for tougher action since arriving in New York last week.
“The use of force is a last resort when the other measures have not worked,” Bamba said.
The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, has vowed to use military force to make Gbagbo stand down. But some diplomats have expressed some doubts about whether the group is ready to follow through on its threat, AFP reports.
The ambassador said they would. “Of course, because today it is Ivory Coast. Tomorrow it could be another country. This is a case of solidarity, so there is really no problem. The president (Ouattara) has said: if Gbagbo remains stubborn, he will suffer the consequences of his stubbornness. It is as simple as that.”
“Everything is being looked at, including the use of force,” said the envoy. “It would be a targeted operation by special forces,” rather than an all out confrontation with the Ivory Coast army, which Gbagbo still controls.
Extra pressure on Gbagbo could come from an increase in the UN force in Ivory Coast, ONUCI, which with special reinforcements is currently about 9,500 troops and police.
The UN peacekeeping department is asking for up to 2,000 extra troops and a UN Security Council resolution could come this week.
Gbagbo has demanded that the UN force leaves. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has refused. A UN departure would allow Gbagbo’s followers to “carry out human rights violations without being worried by anyone. There is no question of that. The UN has been firm on this.”
Bamba said he did not fear a civil war, despite the rising tensions and casualty numbers in Ivory Coast. “This is the stubbornness of someone who refuses to recognize the vote.”
Ouattara has been certified by the UN and international community as winner of a November 28 presidential election.
“The sovereign Ivorian people chose Alassane Ouattara as their new president and the outgoing president must just admit his defeat and withdraw,” said the envoy.
Gbagbo has been defiant and many diplomats say he is playing for time. Bamba called it “tactical maneuvers.”
“But this is not a game. What is at stake here is democracy, the credibility of the world organization, the lives of civilians.”
Gbagbo “thinks that with his stubbornness, the world population’s determination will crumble. No, I think he has miscalculated. The United Nations has been firm,” declared the ambassador.
“It is a desperate battle by someone with his back to the wall. He is desperate, really.”
The new ambassador believes that Gbagbo does not have the means to pay the army, which could undermine his cause.
“The economy has slowed. Financial receipts are not what they were. The level of financial resources has drastically fallen,” said the ambassador.
“The sanctions and isolation that he is the target of means that his financial resources are diminishing.”