UN rights chief slams 'reckless' campaigns in I.Coast

27th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

The UN human rights chief on Saturday slammed incendiary political campaigns in Ivory Coast's presidential election, warning that such "reckless behaviour could have disastrous consequences" for the west African country.

"Political campaigns and some debates on national TV and radio stations have included speeches and statements which incite violence and hostility against the respective candidates," said Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"This has clearly been contributing to the mounting political tension across the country. This is dangerous and reckless behaviour that could have disastrous consequences for the nation," she warned.

The UN rights chief however noted that a televised debate between the two presidential candidates -- incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo and former prime minister Alassane Ouattara -- was a "positive development."

"I urge the two candidates and their supporters to refrain from all acts of violence and to actively discourage any further incitement to hatred, so that free, fair and peaceful elections can take place on Sunday," said Pillay.

"Threats, harassment and violence mark a clear attempt to cheat the people of Cote d'Ivoire of their right to a democratic future," she added.

Candidates in Sunday's second round poll have urged a peaceful vote, but the spectre of unrest hovered as Ouattara's camp rejected Gbagbo's call for a post-election curfew.

Gbagbo, a southern Christian who has held on to power since his term expired in 2005, won 38 percent of the first-round vote. Ouattara, from the largely Muslim north, took 32 percent.

Both are battling for votes from supporters of the defeated first-round candidate, former president Henri Konan Bedie, whose base is in the centre of the country.

Ivorian and UN forces have bolstered their deployments in case of violence.

© 2010 AFP

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