Prime Minister François Fillon convened a meeting this afternoon at the Hôtel de Matignon with the President of the National Assembly, chairmen of the political groups and chairmen of the National Assembly and Senate foreign affairs and defence committees, or their representatives, in the presence of Alain Juppé, Ministre d’Etat, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Gérard Longuet, Minister for Defence and Veterans, and Patrick Ollier, Minister responsible for Relations with Parliament.
The purpose of the meeting was to inform them of developments in the situation in Côte d’Ivoire. François Fillon recalled the circumstances leading President Sarkozy to agree yesterday, in accordance with UNSCR 1975 and in agreement with President Ouattara, to act on the United Nations Secretary-General’s request for the French forces to continue participating in UNOCI-led operations to neutralize the heavy weapons used against civilians.
The situation in Côte d’Ivoire had in fact seriously deteriorated in recent days, marked particularly by an increase in the number of heavy weapons attacks perpetrated by M. Gbagbo’s forces in Abidjan against the Ivorian people, United Nations personnel, foreign diplomatic missions and the Golf Hotel. The humanitarian situation in Côte d’Ivoire and particularly Abidjan – nearly a quarter of whose inhabitants have had to leave their homes – was, moreover, appalling.
The Prime Minister signalled the French authorities’ commitment to full respect for the Ivorian people’s sovereign will as expressed in the presidential election at the end of last year.
Following Laurent Gbagbo’s arrest by the Republican Forces of Côte d’Ivoire, the challenges President Ouattara and the Ivorian authorities will now have to face are huge, ranging from the return home of refugees and displaced people to the relaunch of the Ivorian economy, the restoration of public order and basic public services and the conduct of national reconciliation. France also strongly supports President Ouattara’s intention to institute proceedings, in the national and international courts, against the perpetrators of the violence committed against civilians and the Blue Helmets on Ivorian territory.
As indicated this afternoon by President Sarkozy, who held talks with President Ouattara, Côte d’Ivoire may rest assured of the French authorities’ full support in the reconstruction phase now under way./.