Ivory Coast: Nigeria withdraws delegates and citizens

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Following a United Nations alert of a possible a return to civil war in Ivory Coast after the disputed presidential election, Nigeria has withdrawn all its diplomats from the Ivory Coast and planned to evacuate its citizens from the country.

“We had to evacuate all our diplomats because our embassy in Ivory Coast was attacked. Arrangements are also being made to evacuate Nigerian citizens in that country [Ivory Coast].” Nigerian Foreign Minister Odein Ajumogobia told reporters.

UN mission in Ivory Coast UNOCI had confirmed “mercenaries, including freelance former combatants from Liberia, have been recruited to target certain groups in the population”, and that an arms embargo was being broken.

Tensions in Ivory Coast continue to soar as incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo insists on remaining in power after the November 28 presidential election which the electoral commission and the international community agree was won by rival Alassane Ouattara.

The United Nations, France, the United States, the European Union, the African Union and West African regional bloc ECOWAS have urged Gbagbo to admit defeat and step down.

Last week, pro-Gbagbo security forces used live rounds to put down street protests by Ouattara supporters.

Pro-Gbagbo forces have been reported to obstruct UNOCI, and had denied access to the 800 peacekeepers protecting Mr. Ouattara.

According to reports, roads leading to the lagoon-side hotel have been blocked and no supplies have been received for days.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, said Mr. Gbagbo, was illegally trying to expel the UN’s peacekeeping force.

An ally of Mr Gbagbo warned UN peacekeepers that they could be treated as rebels if they did not leave the country.

ECOWAS heads of state are due to meet on Friday in the Nigerian capital Abuja to discuss developments in Ivory Coast.

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