Abidjan – Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Cote d’Ivoire, Young-jin Choi, on Monday in Abidjan said Nigeria’s early intervention in the Ivorian crisis provided a guide for the international community.

The international community was torn between Alassane Ouattara and former President Laurent Gbagbo after the Ivorian electoral commission announced the results of the elections in favour of Ouattara, which Gbagbo rejected.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in Cote d’Ivoire, who also heads the UN mission, said President Goodluck Jonathan acted promptly in December, 2010, by standing by the results of the elections.

Choi said Jonathan, who was the Chairman of ECOWAS, saved the day for Cote d’Ivoire by telling the truth.

“President Goodluck Jonathan, who served as the Chairman of ECOWAS during the Ivorian political crisis, made a critical contribution by telling the truth.

“By guiding the ECOWAS with a clear vision and decisive action. So I think Ivorian people and the international community, even, are very thankful for what he did.’’

Choi said the international community rallied round ECOWAS after the sub-regional institution endorsed the winner of the elections and declared a direction for the country.

The envoy supervised the Ivorian presidential election held in November 2010 and also endorsed the results that declared Alassane Ouattara, an opposition leader, the winner.

He said the five months political crisis left more than 3,000 people dead and brought the economy to a virtual standstill for the period with an overwhelming number of displaced people.

“It is very regrettable that we had around 3,000 deaths during the last five months of political crisis; it is totally unacceptable. The number is too high and it should not happen again.

“The same with the 2,000 deaths, which took place in the previous nine years. So during the 10 years of Ivorian crisis, you have around 5,000 deaths. Again, it is unacceptable and it should not happen again,’’ he added.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General said Ouattara had instituted the process of reconciling the country.

Choi said the UN would assist the country in security, sensitisation of the public on reconciliation and in restoring confidence in the economy.

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan, chairing the ECOWAS meeting of heads of states, was the first leader to insist that the former Ivorian president should hand over peacefully or risk the use of “legitimate force’’.

ECOWAS sent in three heads of states to negotiate with Gbagbo on handing over, while AU leaders kept a constant train of delegates to the embattled former Ivorian leader for four months.

In February, President Jonathan sent an envoy, former President Olusegun Obasanjo, to negotiate with Gbagbo to leave power and take an offer of relocating to another country.

Gbagbo turned down the offer and preferred a unity government in which Ouattara would serve as the vice-president.

Obasanjo returned to Nigeria disappointed after two days of negotiation and barely two months later, Gbagbo was forcefully ousted on April 11, 2011.

The former Ivorian president has been under house arrest in the northern part of the country in Korhogo after he was removed by soldiers loyal to Ouattara, UN military peace keepers and a special French force, Licorne.

The new government has also prosecuted the former leader for human rights abuses. (NAN)

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