Côte dIvoire Annan asks UN human rights office to probe deadly political

“Following requests from the Monitoring Committee, as well as President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Seydou Diarra, urging the United Nations to institute an international commission of inquiry to investigate the tragic events that occurred in Abidjan on 25 March 2004, the Secretary-General has asked the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to take the lead in the establishment of such a Commission, which will commence its work as soon as possible,” UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters.The Monitoring Committee was set up in January 2003 under the agreement reached in Linas-Marcoussis, France, ending fierce civil fighting in Côte d’Ivoire and setting up a government of national unity. Violent attacks broke out at the March demonstrations in the main commercial centre of Abidjan, where sporadic shooting was heard, according to the UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (MINUCI). MINUCI staff members reported later that they have had great difficulty in conducting their investigation of the events.According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number of deaths in Abidjan ranged from a government report of 37 to an opposition estimate of 300. One person was also killed and 25 wounded during demonstrations in the capital, Yamoussoukro, OCHA said.Referring to the investigation, Ms. Okabe said: “The Secretary-General expects all Ivorian authorities and political forces to extend all the necessary cooperation to this Commission.” He also called on all Ivorians to exercise restraint and avoid any steps that could cause further deterioration in the situation in the country. read more