Ivory Coast’s president Laurent Gbagbo has called on his supporters to end three days of anti-UN riots. They claimed up to five lives on Wednesday after Bandgladeshi peacekeepers fired to prevent their camp being overrun in Guiglo, in the west of the divided country.
Gbagbo made the appeal after a lightning diplomatic visit by Nigeria’s president, currently head of the African union. The UN Security Council is due to discuss Ivory Coast in its meeting today. Gbagbo’s supporters want the 7000 UN and 4000 French troops out, and the parliament they dominate to have its mandate renewed by the international working group overseeing the peace process. The north escaped Abidjan’s control in 2002, and the west is restless. The UN base in Guiglo along with three others was evacuated in the latest violence there, and there were similar attacks on UN bases in the capital. Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo added regional influence to his African Union punch in his overnight meetings with Gbagbo, his prime minister, and Kofi Annan’s special representative, to try and calm the situation. And on Wednesday it appeared close to boiling, with the UN reporting radio stations calling on people to take up arms against their forces.Gbagbo’s appeal to his supporters is his first public statement since the latest flashpoint in the tottering peace process erupted in riots at the weekend.