Nigeria backs UN action to protect civilians in I.Coast
Nigeria on Tuesday said the United Nations should employ all necessary means to protect civilians from violence in Ivory Coast, after French and UN military intervention in the crisis-torn country.
"I do not know the precise circumstances of their engagement, but I will say this UNSC resolution 1975 is broad enough to permit their engagement if the circumstances dictate that they should in order to protect innocent civilians," Foreign Minister Odein Ajumogobia told AFP.
He was referring to a resolution passed by the UN Security Council last week that allows the UN peacekeeping force to prevent the use of heavy weapons against civilians. Nigeria proposed the resolution along with France.
"I do not believe that either UNOCI (the UN mission in Ivory Coast) or the French force stationed in Abidjan would presume to act outside their UN-sanctioned mandate."
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan is the current chairman of West African bloc ECOWAS, which at a summit last month called for the UN to toughen the mandate of its peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast and to protect civilians.
Asked whether the UN resolution was in line with the ECOWAS position, Ajumogobia said, "absolutely -- all necessary measures to protect innocent civilians caught up in this senseless violence."
ECOWAS and regional powerhouse Nigeria have repeatedly called on Laurent Gbagbo to step down.
Fierce fighting rocked Abidjan for two days after Alassane Ouattara's fighters launched a "final assault" to remove Gbagbo, while French and UN helicopters attacked his barracks and the palace to take out heavy weapons on Monday.
Gbagbo hunkered down in a bunker at his home Tuesday after being cornered by his rival's followers, as his own forces silenced their weapons and asked for a ceasefire.
© 2011 AFP