Russia questions UN use of force in Ivory Coast

5th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russia on Tuesday questioned the use of force by the UN peacekeepers in the West African nation of Ivory Coast where a conflict over a disputed election has led to devastating fighting.

"We are now looking into the legal side of the issue because peacekeepers had a mandate which requires them to be neutral and impartial," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters.

He added that Moscow had requested a special briefing at the UN Security Council to address the situation but was not satisfied with its results.

"So far we have not received particularly precise answers to our questions. But we will be looking into this situation," he said in televised remarks.

On Monday, UN and French helicopters fired on the Ivory Coast presidential palace and bases of strongman Laurent Gbagbo in the main city Abidjan after he lost November elections but refused to step down.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said the aim was to stop heavy weapons being used against civilians and not a declaration of war against Gbagbo.

UN Security Council resolution 1975 adopted on March 30 ordered sanctions against Gbagbo to push him to leave and also said the UN force should protect civilians and prevent use of heavy weapons.

Russia is "extremely concerned" by the violence in Ivory Coast, Lavrov said. "The situation there is not improving but abruptly deteriorating," he said.

"We have demanded that those who apply force in the regions where peaceful civilians are located not allow any action which may lead to new victims."

© 2011 AFP

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