UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Wednesday it will ask the Security Council to approve up to 2,000 additional peacekeepers for Ivory Coast to help protect the man it says is the west African nation’s new president.
“I expressed my intention to request more troops and I expect to formalize it in the coming days,” Alain Le Roy, the U.N. undersecretary-general for peacekeeping operations, told Reuters in an interview after addressing a closed-door meeting of the U.N. Security Council.
“It will be around 1,000 to 2,000 more troops,” he said.
He added that he hoped the new peacekeepers could be deployed to the Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, within the next few weeks.
The 10,000-member U.N. force in Ivory Coast, known as UNOCI, has been protecting Alassane Ouattara, who the United Nations says won a presidential election in November, defeating Laurent Gbagbo, who has rejected the U.N.-certified results and refused to step down as president.
Gbagbo has dismissed international pressure to resign, as well as threats of sanctions and force. He has also accused world leaders of meddling in Ivory Coast’s internal affairs.
Ouattara is currently holed up in the Golf Hotel in the country’s main city, Abidjan. Le Roy said he needed the extra troops for a number of reasons, including the deployment of blue helmets to the hotel to protect Outtara.
Le Roy said the 15 Security Council members had “reacted positively” when he told them of his plan to augment UNOCI. The council will have to pass a resolution to formally approve the increase.