Abidjan – U.S. President Barack Obama has advised President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire to prepare a handover note for peace to reign in the crisis-torn country.
Obama gave the advice on Thursday in a speech on the escalating violence in Cote d’Ivoire, the world’s leading cocoa producer.
A copy of the speech was made available to the West Africa correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abidjan by U.S. Embassy spokesman Teko Folli.
“As we have said for the certification of election results in Côte d’Ivoire, the people of Côte d’Ivoire have elected as their president Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo has lost the election.
“The effort of former President Gbagbo to cling to power at the expense of his own country is a violation of universal human rights of his people and the democracy that the country deserves.
“The people of Côte d’Ivoire have extraordinary potential and talents, and this nation deserves leadership capable of responding to their hopes and aspirations,” Obama said.
The U.S. president said the delay in handing over power to the internationally recognised winner of the election, Ouattara, had spiralled into violence, claiming many lives.
“It is time that former President Gbagbo takes into account the will of his people and completes a peaceful transition of power to President Ouattara,” he said.
On the killing of unarmed civilians during demonstrations, Obama said the U.S. would support all relevant international institutions to prosecute those responsible for the killings.
“I am particularly saddened by the systematic killings of unarmed civilians during peaceful demonstrations, including many women, and those slaughtered during their march to support the legitimately elected president.
“According to reports, these women were killed by security forces loyal to former President Gbagbo on March 8, 2011, the date marking the 100th anniversary of the International Women’s Day.
“We saw images of women who were demonstrating peacefully waving messages such as `Do not shoot us’, a strong message that reflects the bravery of women exercising their right to peaceful assembly,” Obama said.
He urged all armed groups in Cote d’Ivoire to make efforts to avoid civilian casualties.