Tensions are rising again in Cote d'Ivoire, where former President Laurent Gbagbo is digging in and refusing to give up power despite losing the November 28 run-off election. Government security forces have stepped up raids on neighborhoods and areas seen as supporting President-elect Alassane Ouattara, and the violence has escalated into bloody attacks on United Nations peacekeepers tasked with protecting civilians and Mr. Ouattara's government.
Increasingly isolated by the international community, Gbagbo appears to have found hope that despite their rejection of him, Cote d'Ivoire's neighbors are undecided on whether to use force to remove him. They fear that if the standoff escalates, it could destabilize the entire region. Already, thousands of Ivoirians have fled the clashes into Liberia.
The United States is extremely concerned about the situation and we are monitoring events closely. Gbagbo and others in his government have fueled the fires with anti-U.N. and anti-Ouattara broadcasts on state-owned radio and television. The blood of injured civilians and peacekeepers is on their hands.
We strongly condemn this interference with the work of the U.N. Operation in Cote d'Ivoire and view it as a violation of the U.N. sanctions regime.
In the face of this impunity, the U.S. will continue taking steps to convince Gbagbo to step down. Along with others in the international community, we have imposed travel and financial sanctions against the former president, his family and close supporters. A request for additional U.N. troops is also under review.
The message of both the international community and the Ivorian people is clear: Allasane Ouattara has been elected president of Cote d'Ivoire, and it is time for Gbagbo to yield power and go.