Paris, March 9, 2011
Mme Aurillac, I’ll do my best to answer your three questions precisely.
The mandate of the United Nations force in Côte d’Ivoire is fairly clear: it gives it the responsibility not only to protect civilians but also to ensure the arms embargo imposed by UNSCR 1572 on Côte d’Ivoire is respected.
On the first point we note that, since the beginning of the year, the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire – UNOCI – has been taking a firmer attitude and ensuring its authority is better respected. It has thus managed to re-establish its supply chain, despite the blockade of the Golf Hotel and the port.
On the second point – arms trafficking – the group of experts at the United Nations Sanctions Committee referred to the Secretary-General the matter of the risk that Belarusian attack helicopters migh be delivered to M. Gbagbo’s forces in violation of the resolution. It appears the operation didn’t take place, and the warning issued by the experts may have helped deter the traffickers from accomplishing their plan.
To answer your third question, strengthening UNOCI’s mandate doesn’t seem necessary for the time being. Despite this, the situation on the ground is taking a dramatic turn. By clinging on to power, M. Gbagbo is threatening to plunge his country into a civil war. He perpetrated a virtual hold-up of the Abidjan headquarters of the Central Bank of West African States – BCEAO – and then of bank branches.
On the one hand, we must persevere with our sanctions, which are beginning to choke off his finances; on the other, we must have confidence in the African Union, which is meeting this very day in Addis Ababa and will propose to President Ouattara and M. Gbagbo a plan to solve the conflict. This is the line we’re taking. The African Union must ensure the voice of reason prevails over murderous frenzy./.