U.N. troops on alert in Ivory Coast

Dec. 19, 2010 at 11:25 AM
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ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Dec. 19 (UPI) -- The United Nations said it was on guard but staying put in the Ivory Coast Sunday despite a demand from the nation's president that the peacekeepers pull out.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon rejected President Laurent Gbagbo's call for the force to withdraw from the African nation by Monday, and the mission's commanders said they planned to remain on the job.

"We're going to continue our patrols but we're not seeking confrontation," U.N. spokesman Hamadoun Toure told Radio France Internationale.

Toure said peacekeepers were giving sensitive areas such a Gbagbo's residence a wide berth. "We're increasing our vigilance, and we're ready for anything," he said.

Tensions between the United Nations and Gbagbo's regime flared up into a clash between uniformed gunmen and a U.N. unit Friday.

The United Nations, which has been in Ivory Coast since 2004, had declared Gbagbo's political rival, Alassane Ouattara, the winner of last month's presidential election and has been protecting his headquarters.

Quattara has the backing of anti-government rebels and was recognized as the winner of the poll by other African and Western nations, Radio France Internationale said.

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