UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Monday urged an end to the broadcasting of false information in Ivory Coast aimed at inciting the kind of violence that has killed dozens of people in ethnic clashes.
Ethnic violence in Ivory Coast’s western town of Duekoue last week killed 33 people and wounded 75, the chief of its main hospital told Reuters.
“The members of the Security Council strongly condemned and demanded an immediate halt to the use of media, especially Radiodiffusion-Television Ivoirienne (RTI), to propagate false information to incite hatred and violence, including against the U.N.,” the council said a statement.
The statement, which was read to reporters by Bosnia’s deputy U.N. Ambassador Mirsada Colakovic, voiced “deep concern over continued violence and human rights violations.” Bosnia holds the council’s rotating presidency this month.
The United Nations says more than 200 people have been killed in violence since a dispute broke out between Laurent Gbagbo, who has refused to step down as president, and his rival Alassane Ouattara, after a presidential election on November 28 the U.N. says Ouattara won.
More than 20,000 Ivorians in the west have fled across the border to Liberia since the dispute flared up, fearing a return to civil war. Ivory Coast has been divided into Gbagbo-controlled south and rebel north since its last such war in 2002-3.
Council diplomats told Reuters that Russia and China were reluctant to have the council explicitly recognize Ouattara as the country’s elected president because they dislike the idea of the Security Council endorsing one candidate over another in a national election.
To secure the support of Moscow and Beijing, diplomats said, the statement quoted a January 4 communique issued jointly by the African Union and regional west African group ECOWAS that referred to Ouattara as Ivory Coast’s president.
“In view of the recognition set out in the communique of Alassane Dramane Ouattara as President of Cote d’Ivoire, the members of the Security Council reiterated their call on all Ivorian parties and stakeholders to respect the will of the people and the outcome of the election,” the statement said.
U.N. peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy told the 15-nation council last week that he would ask for up to 2,000 additional peacekeepers to top up the 10,000-strong U.N. force, known as UNOCI, in the world’s top cocoa grower.
The statement said the council “welcomed the submission of the detailed recommendations and proposals” aimed at strengthening UNOCI.
The long-delayed presidential election was intended to draw a line under years of instability, but instead has widened the divide between the country’s north and south.