UN rights council to hold special session on Ivory Coast

21st December 2010, Comments 0 comments

The UN Human Rights Council announced it will hold a special session on Thursday on the post-election standoff and violence in Ivory Coast.

"At the initiative of Nigeria, on behalf of the African Group, and the United States, with the support of 31 member states, the Human Rights Council will hold a special session on the situation of human rights in Ivory Coast since the elections on 28 November 2010 this Thursday," spokeswoman Claire Kaplun said.

The 47-member council holds special sessions at the request of a majority of member states to debate human rights crises, so far mainly on the Middle East.

Ivory Coast's outgoing president Laurent Gbagbo and rival Alassane Ouattara both claim to have won last month's presidential election, leading to deadly post-election violence during a standoff between the two.

UN poll monitors, most world powers and the African Union have recognised the challenger, Ouattara, as president and have demanded the incumbent step down.

Ouattara on Tuesday urged Ivorians to rise up in a campaign of civil disobedience against Gbagbo, after accusing security forces loyal to Gbagbo of murdering scores of civilians in overnight death squad raids.

The United Nations said at the weekend that at least 50 people had been killed in Ivory Coast's post-election crisis and there were reports of "massive" human rights abuses.

The Paris-based International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) welcomed the council's special session.

FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen underlined that the Ivorian crisis was threatening to slide into armed conflict, while 30 important election dates loomed in Africa in 2011.

"This special session is a unique opportunity for the Human Rights Council, and primarily the African member states, to reaffirm their refusal to see Ivory Coast, or any other country facing an election standoff, from sliding into lasting crisis," she said.

© 2010 AFP

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