Tue, December 28, 2010
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UN vows impartiality in Ivory Coast

2010-12-28 10:13:13 GMT2010-12-28 18:13:13 (Beijing Time)  SINA.com

Chief of UN peacekeeping Alain Leroy visited Ivory Coast this week to bolster the global agency's mission, amid a deepening political impasse in the African nation.

President Laurent Gbagbo has shown no sign of caving, despite international pressure for him to step down and recognise his opponent Alassane Ouattara as the winner in last month's elections.

Leroy met with Ouatarra and reviewed the security around Golf Hotel where he has been staying.

Leroy reiterated the impartial nature of the UN's peacekeeping mission.

(SOUNDBITE) (French) ALAIN LEROY, UN CHIEF OF PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS, SAYING:

"We are not at war with anyone, and in terms of civilian protection -- which is something very complicated, and very important at the same time, essential even -- we are carrying this out in the most impartial manner possible. We are going to protect civilians no matter what their political affiliation or ethnicity. We have an impartial mandate."

Gbagbo earlier demanded that the UN force leave the country, and the mission chief said some of them had been harassed.

The UN Security Council last week defied Gbagbo's orders and unanimously voted to keep the peacekeeping mission in the country.

Violence since the elections has killed more than 170 people and residents of the capital Abidjan are desperate to return to their normal lives.

SOUNDBITE (French) STUDENT WILFRID DJEDJE SAYING:

"The best solution is to sit down and discuss, find solutions. If the country has to have two Presidents, there will be a President and a Vice-President for the people's happiness. We've had too much bloodshed, we are tired. Honestly, we are tired."

Ouattara has called for a nationwide strike to paralyse the country until Gbagbo cedes power.

SOUNDBITE (French) UNIDENTIFIED RESIDENT OF ABIDJAN SAYING:

"Nowadays Ivorians live one day at a time, whatever the solution to the crisis is one has to think about the population that can't go to work thus can't eat."

Hundreds of Christian women gathered in a square on Monday to pray for a peaceful solution to the deadly conflict.

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