Apr 5, 2011 20:53 Moscow Time
Sergei Lavrov. Photo: EPA
Russia intends to see into the legitimacy of the use of force by UN peacekeepers in Cote d’Ivoire, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said following the talks with his Gabonese counterpart Paul Toungui. Moscow’s stand remains unchanged - any foreign interference will only lead to increasing violence in African countries.
According to Sergei Lavrov, the legal aspect of implementing Resolution 1975 required an emergency briefing in the UN Security Council. In practice, this briefing did not provide Moscow with any accurate answers to its questions.
In all circumstances, we urged those using force in areas where civilians are concentrated to prevent any actions that could lead to new victims. There are several Russian citizens staying there; we are deeply concerned about their fate and will collect information and decide by what means we can ensure their safety, including the possible evacuation. I very much hope that the situation will be switched onto a political track, since the current developments’ harmful effect will become tangible if the use of force is being applied for a long time, Sergei Lavrov stressed.
On the night of April 4th, the French military mission “Unicorn”, along with the UN peacekeeping mission, delivered several air strikes on positions of the country’s former president Laurent Gbagbo, who has been refusing to shed power to Alassane Ouattara for half a year already. Thus, the Blue Helmets, who had to stay unbiased pursuant to a UN Security Council’s mandate, virtually lost their neutral status. The consequences of such a step can prove irretrievable both for Cote d’Ivoire and the UN, whose peaceful intentions have become doubtful.
In the meantime, news concerning the current situation in the Ivory Coast is more than inconsistent. According to Cote d’Ivoire’s Ambassador in Paris Ally Coulibaly, Laurent Gbagbo, who still refuses to recognize his defeat at presidential elections and keeps offering armed resistance to the new government and the UN, is negotiating his possible surrender. At the same time, Gbagbo’s advisor in Paris Toussaint Alain said that the president “is alive, has not been captured and has no intention to surrender.” Followers of president-elect Alassane Ouattara claim that they have occupied Gbagbo’s residence in Abidjan, even though the ex-president was not there, according to media reports. With military operations still under way in Cote d’Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara’s commanders are sure that with the assistance of the UN mission and France, it will take them a few days to regain complete control over the capital city.