Good Afternoon. On behalf of the Council, I’d like to read a statement of the Council following a briefing by Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy and discussions in consultations among members of the Council:
The members of the Security Council are deeply concerned about the violence, in particular against civilians in Côte d’Ivoire, including reports of gunfire in Abidjan near the Golf Hotel. The members of the Security Council condemn in the strongest terms acts of violence and are alarmed by reports of multiple civilian fatalities, many more wounded and even more being displaced across Côte d’Ivoire. The members of the Security Council warn all stakeholders that they will be held accountable for attacks against civilians and will be brought to justice, in accordance with international law and international humanitarian law.
The members of the Security Council urge all Ivorian stakeholders to exercise maximum restraint, to remain calm, resist provocative actions, refrain from violence, and work together to restore sustainable peace.
The members of the Security Council reiterate their support for the constructive role of the Secretary-General in Côte d’Ivoire and stress the important role that the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) under the leadership of the Special Representative continues to play under its existing mandate.
The members of the Security Council welcome efforts by the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and countries in the region to assist in preserving peace and stability in Côte d’Ivoire.
The members of the Security Council recall their last statement on Côte d’Ivoire on December 8 and urge all parties to respect the will of the people and the outcome of the elections.
Now let me also say a few words in my national capacity about the other work we’re doing today in the Security Council. This morning we had a very important meeting of the Council on Sudan in which we heard again from both parties as well as from Under-Secretary-General Le Roy on the preparations on the ground. We had a very useful report as well from the former President of Tanzania, Benjamin Mkapa, who leads the council monitoring the elections in Sudan. The Council issued a very important Presidential Statement underscoring their agreement with the perspective conveyed by President Mkapa that the registration process had concluded peacefully and credibly and forms a strong foundation for the upcoming referenda to be peaceful and credible as well.
The United States, in its remarks, expressed our very grave concern about the increase in violence, the aerial bombardment, the attacks on civilians, including most especially those by the Government of Sudan, which we condemned – and we share the view of member states who continue to speak in unity and in one voice that the referendum for Southern Sudan must be held on time. It must be credible and peaceful and we are looking forward to that. As we speak we are continuing in the Council also having just adopted a very important resolution, 1960 on women, peace and security, co-sponsored by the U.S. and many, many other states. That resolution strengthens the architecture in place that we have progressively been building to combat sexual violence and impunity for those who commit it.
I’m happy to take a couple of questions.
Reporter: As President, has anybody brought you, as President, about the possibility of a resolution condemning settlements…(inaudible)
Ambassador Rice: Nobody has confronted us with such a proposal under our Presidency, and I wouldn’t speculate on a draft I haven’t seen.
Reporter: Who is your favorite to replace Brooke Anderson?
Ambassador Rice: Brooke Anderson is irreplaceable.
Reporter: Do you still want to add troops to that region?
Ambassador Rice: We didn’t specifically discuss that question, I mean there are 10,000 UN troops in Côte d’Ivoire, we have recently augmented UNOCI with additional helicopters and personnel from Liberia, and we have not heard the Secretariat suggest that the current troop strength is somehow inadequate. There are no proposals at the present to augment it.
Reporter: Ambassador, is the proposal to increase the troop strength of AMISOM…(inaudible)
Ambassador Rice: That resolution is under discussion, and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to adopt it this month.
Reporter: Did Mr. Le Roy talk about clashes anywhere else in Ivory Coast? There are some reports about outside of Abidjan in other place near Yamoussoukro. And also on Sudan, the Ambassador of Sudan, or the minister who spoke, denied the bombings, said that it was still being investigated by a tripartite process. Is it the Council’s sense that this bombing took place? What can you say about Sudan’s denial that the bombing took place?
Ambassador Rice: Well, I can’t speak for Sudan’s denial, but you heard Under-Secretary- General LeRoy in the Council speak very plainly to that as he also did in consultations. And yes, back to your question on Côte d’Ivoire, there was discussion of, and mention of, incidents of violence outside of Abidjan, including the town that you are referring to, 40 some miles away from Yamoussoukro.
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