U.S. emergency extended for Ivory Coast

Feb. 5, 2013 at 9:18 AM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 (UPI) -- Ivory Coast presents a threat to U.S. security interests despite progress made since political violence erupted in 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama said.

Presidential elections in Ivory Coast in 2011 were meant to unite a country divided by civil war. Disputed claims to victory made by then incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo and challenger Alassane Oattara pushed the country close to war.

Gbagbo, arrested in April 2011, is awaiting trial at a court in The Hague for war crimes allegedly committed during post-election violence.

Obama said he was extended a national emergency as it relates to Ivory Coast.

"While the government of Ivory Coast and its people continue to make progress toward peace and prosperity, the situation in or in relation to Ivory Coast continues to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States," Obama said in a statement.

Bert Koenders, U.N. special envoy for Ivory Coast, told the U.N. Security Council that gains made in Ivory Coast since 2011 were impressive. The Security Council, however, was called on to "consolidate the significant gains achieved and address remaining challenges and root causes of the repeated crises which have engulfed the country on so many occasions over the past decades."

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