Ivorian Chief of Army seeks refuge

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pretoria - Cote d'Ivoire's Chief of Army, Phillippe Mangou, has sought refuge at the home of the South African Ambassador as bloodshed continues in that country.

International Relations said in a statement that Mangou, his wife and five children arrived at the ambassador's home in Abidjan on Wednesday night.

The department's spokesperson, Clayson Monyela, said South Africa is consulting with relevant parties in Ivory Coast, West African regional leaders, African Union and the UN on Mangou's move.

Mangou sought refuge as the fight continues to install Ivory Coast's democratically elected president. Rebels have been up in arms since President Laurent Gbagbo was defeated five months ago by rival Alassane Ouattara in a UN-certified election. Gbagbo has refused to step down.

Since then, up to one million people have either been displaced within the West African nation or fled to neighbouring countries. Nearly 500 people have reportedly been killed.

Reacting to Wednesday's UN Security Council resolution demanding an end to violence against civilians and imposing sanctions on Gbagbo, his wife and three associates, Monyela said South Africa backed all regional moves to resolve the crisis, including the AU's firm recognition of Ouattara as the winner of the 2010 presidential elections.

"South Africa believes that the Economic Community of West African States, the AU and UN should persist in their quest to find a peaceful political solution to the current crises," said Monyela.

The ministry believed this was the only sustainable approach to restore national reconciliation, unity, democracy and good governance.

The measure by UNSC called on Gbagbo to step down and condemned the recent escalation of violence throughout the country and said it could amount to crimes against humanity. However, it did not refer the case to the International Criminal Court.