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US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jonnie Carson on Cote d'Ivoire crisis

US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jonnie Carson on Cote d'Ivoire crisis

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Published by Haggae Matsiko
US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jonnie Carson speaks about Cote d'Ivoire crisis
US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jonnie Carson speaks about Cote d'Ivoire crisis

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Published by: Haggae Matsiko on Apr 04, 2011
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04/04/2011

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US Assistant Secretary for AfricaCarson speaks on situation in Coted’Ivoire
The situation that you’ve described in Cote d’Ivoiresounds an awful lot like the situation in otherplaces, or at least one other place, where theAdministration has decided to intervene militarily.Can you explain why you don’t think that that kindof intervention is needed or desirable in IvoryCoast, given the fact that things are so dire on theground?
The international community has intervened in the IvoryCoast, and that intervention is showing results. The othercountry that you’re thinking about is in the Maghreb. Butlet me just say that there are some 11,000 UNpeacekeepers on the ground in the Ivory Coast. They aresupplemented by French military units that are a part of that UN peacekeeping force.Secondly, the government – or the former government of Laurent Gbagbo does not have helicopter gunships, jetaviation, or tanks in the numbers that we have seen inthe other country that you have mentioned, nor have weseen the tremendous loss of life or the exceedingly largenumber of people racing for the borders. This is not tosay that there is not a humanitarian crisis in the IvoryCoast; there is. The reason why we are so concernedabout the Ivory Coast today is that if there is, in fact, a
 
full-scale civil war in that country, it will not only lead tolarge refugee flows out into Liberia and to neighboringstates; it will also probably lead to growing instability inSierra Leone, Liberia, and other countries that have beenplagued by instability before.We’re concerned about this. We’re concerned about thehundred thousand Ivoirians that have already left andgone to Liberia. But there is a difference between thetwo countries that you speak of. The United Nations hasbeen engaged, including in a new resolution just lastnight on this issue.
Could you outline for us what the Americancomponent of the UN operation is in Ivory Coast,what the U.S. is contributing to that other thanperhaps just money?
The United States contributes about 25 percent of thefinancial wherewithal to all international peacekeepingoperations, and this is no exception. What we havecontributed is a great deal of diplomacy, diplomacy at thehighest levels of the U.S. Government.President Obama has been directly involved, SecretaryClinton has been directly involved, Deputy Secretary JimSteinberg has been involved, I have been involved andour Ambassador in the region. We have worked closelywith the United Nations, we’ve worked closely with theFrench, we’ve worked closely with Alassane Ouattara,and we have worked closely with the leaders of ECOWAS.Sometimes our political influence is as significant as what
 
we put on the ground with respect to military might.
Well, right – well, except for, in this case, thepolitical influence doesn’t – which has beenbrought to bear, since December, it hasn’t resultedin Gbagbo leaving, correct?
Well, I think the situation is quite fluid. If you havefollowed the events over the last 24 hours, you know thatAlassane Ouattara’s forces have made substantial gainsthroughout the southern part of the country. In the west,they have made gains along the Liberian border. Theyhave captured the second largest port city of San Pedro.They have captured the ceremonial capital of thecountry, Yamoussoukro. And they have made gains onthe eastern side as well.The only place where there is significant and substantialresistance to the forces of Alassane Ouattara are in andaround Abidjan, and the news that we have is that theforces of Alassane Ouattara are now on the outskirts of the city.
Ancillary to that, there’s some reports that thisconflict could be over in hours or a matter of days.What is your take on that? Obviously, you wouldsupport a complete takeover of Abidjan by theOuattara forces. Also, are you aware of the armychief of Gbagbo taking refuge in an embassy inAbidjan?
Absolutely. We have confirmed reports from the SouthAfricans themselves, who have released a statement that

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