Statement by Ambassador Susan E. Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the Arrest of former President Laurent Gbagbo in Cote d’Ivoire
The United States welcomes the end of former President Laurent Gbabgo’s illegitimate claim to power in Cote d’Ivoire. As the international community has said repeatedly, the people of Cote d’Ivoire deserve peace and democracy. They deserve a government that recognizes their fundamental human rights and respects their will. And they deserve to return to the path of prosperity and security. That opportunity begins today.
As the Ivorian government and people work to move beyond the recent crisis, the United States will stand with them. We are ready to help Cote d’Ivoire recover and rebuild, and will support UN efforts to carry on its important peacekeeping and humanitarian work. The United States commends the UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and French forces for the robust implementation of their mandate to protect civilians pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1975, and we will continue to strongly support their efforts in this regard.
The U.S. remains profoundly concerned about and condemns persistent violations of fundamental human rights. We support President Alassane Ouattara’s affirmation of the need to investigate those who have perpetrated attacks against civilians. All parties should be aware that the actions of their supporters will be scrutinized, alleged human rights abuses and attacks against civilians will be investigated, and perpetrators will be held accountable without regard to which side they may have been aligned.
The United States condemns the renewed assault by forces loyal to former President Gbagbo against the Republican Forces of Cote d’Ivoire. It is clear that Gbagbo’s attempts at negotiation this week were nothing more than a ruse to regroup and rearm. Gbagbo’s continued attempt to force a result that he could not obtain at the ballot box reveals his callous disregard for the welfare of the Ivoirian people, who will again suffer amid renewed heavy fighting in Abidjan.
We call on Gbagbo to cease these hostilities, direct his supporters to stand down, and surrender to President Ouattara’s legitimately-elected government. We reiterate to all forces the urgent need to respect the rights of civilians and to fulfill United Nations Security Council Resolution obligations and requirements of the international community. We salute President Ouattara’s affirmation of the need for credible investigations of abuses perpetrated by any party, and welcome his commitment to govern for all Ivoirians.
The United States condemns Laurent Gbagbo’s continued attacks on unarmed civilians in Cote d’Ivoire and we demand an immediate end to this brutality. Gbagbo’s indiscriminate violence against civilians cannot be tolerated. All individuals responsible for ordering or carrying out these heinous acts will have to answer for their actions.
Gbagbo’s claim that he represents the Ivoirian people belies his persistent refusal to participate in the peaceful transition recommended by the African Union. Gbagbo’s incendiary rhetoric, such as his recent call for civilians to take up arms against their fellow citizens, stands in stark contrast to President Ouattara’s appeal for calm and restraint among the Ivoirian people. Now is the time for all Ivoirians to embrace the path of peace and to unite in rebuilding Cote d’Ivoire so that future generations can enjoy the stability and prosperity that all Ivoirians deserve.
The United States is providing humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by the growing violence, including a $4.5 million food aid contribution to the United Nations World Food Program in Cote d’Ivoire and a $7.5 million contribution for refugees in neighboring Liberia. We will continue to assist those affected by this violence and help put an end to the crisis.
The United States strongly condemns Laurent Gbagbo’s acts of violence perpetrated against the people of Cote d’Ivoire, including his security forces’ attack yesterday on unarmed women demonstrators that left seven dead. Gbagbo and his forces have shown a callous disregard for human life and the rule of law, preying on the unarmed and the innocent. He should step aside immediately in the name of peace.
Gbabgo’s selfish effort to cling to power despite losing the election has elevated tensions and eroded the fundamental rights of Ivoirian civilians. Since December, Gbagbo has used security forces to attack the very people he claims to represent, and deprived Ivorian citizens of access to water and electricity. Indeed, Cote d’Ivoire’s most vulnerable citizens, its women and children, are suffering the most.
The United States calls for an immediate end to the violence. Military leaders, regime officials, and others responsible for directing or committing violent acts against civilians will have to answer for their actions.