22 Dec 2010

Renewed civil war in Ivory Coast feared

10:00 pm on 22 December 2010

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned there's a "real risk" of a return to civil war in Ivory Coast .

Mr Ban says the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, is illegally trying to expel the UN's peacekeeping force after it recognised Alassane Ouattara as victor in the recent presidential election.

In his first television address since the poll Mr Gbagbo stressed his legitimacy, while offering to let a panel representing international powers examine the results of the election.

"I won the election with 51.45% of vote," he said. "I am the president of the Republic of Ivory Coast. I thank Ivorians for renewing their trust in me."

Mr Gbagbo said Mr Ouattara could leave the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, where he has set up his headquarters, protected by the UN, and go where he likes. But the BBC's correspondent in Abidjan says roads leading to the hotel have been blocked and no supplies have been received for days.

Ban worried about UN mission

In a speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, Mr Ban said he was worried about UNOCI, the 10,000-strong mission in Ivory Coast.

He said that any attempt to "starve the United Nations mission into submission" would not be tolerated, and warned those who perpetrated such acts would be held accountable under international law.

The election, delayed for five years, was supposed to reunify the world's largest cocoa producer, which has been divided since 2002.

But the UN says at least 50 people have been killed in violence linked to the dispute over who won the election.