Reconciliation needed after Ivory Coast clashes: UN
7/27/2012 9:10:01 PM -
ABIDJAN (AFP) - The clashes in west Ivory Coast show a vital need to pursue reconciliation efforts and restore the rule of law in the west African country, a United Nations official said Friday.
At least 11 people were killed and dozens of others injured in the July 20 attacks in Duekoue in an area long beset by ethnic tensions.
A large crowd from the town raided a camp for 5,000 displaced people on its outskirts, killing six, in reprisals for the death of five individuals allegedly killed by people from the camp.
The events "highlight the need for a solid reconciliation process, as well as a restoration of the rule of law and State authority across the country," Bert Koenders, the UN secretary-general's special representative in the Ivory Coast, said at a Friday press conference.
Western Ivory Coast has long been beset by ethnic tensions fueled by land disputes.
Most camp residents in the latest attack come from the Guere ethnic group, which has tense relations with the Malinke people, who made up most of the attackers, according to witnesses.
The northern Malinke are considered to be supporters of President Alassane Ouattara, while the Guere were held to back former president Laurent Gbagbo, who clung to power for about four months after losing an election in late 2010.
Koenders said 11 people had died and 56 were injured in the attacks, though the UN's peacekeeping force in the country -- known by its acronym UNOCI -- had earlier reported 12 deaths.
On Thursday, the UN Security Council renewed UNOCI's mandate but reduced its size in response to recommendations by the UN secretariat, which has been cutting spending on peacekeeping missions around the world.
But the council also said the operation should reinforce their field presence in parts of the country where civilians are at a greater risk, notably in the west.
Koenders said the identity of the attackers from the group of between 500 to 1,000 people raiding the camp was still under investigation.