The absence of His Excellency Blaise Compaoré, President of Burkina Faso and Facilitator of the Direct Inter-Ivorian Dialogue, and His Excellency James Victor Gbeho, President of the ECOWAS Commission, from the Delegation was due mainly to the security threat brought to the attention of the Panel in the evening of Sunday, 20th February 2011, while the latter was in consultation in Nouakchott, Mauritania. The threat was specifically directed at the person of the Facilitator reportedly by members of the “Jeunes Patriots” of Côte d’Ivoire who had commenced demonstrations in the streets.
PHOTO : BLAISE CAMPAORE
The Panel was relying on its ability to persuade one of the contestants in the disputed 28th November 2010 presidential run-off election to contain the mob action that had taken the character of invading the Houphouet Boigny International Airport in Abidjan and vowing not to vacate the installation until the mob was able to prevent the Facilitator from setting foot on Ivorian soil.
Even though the threat was serious enough to compel the Facilitator to cancel his planned participation in the trip to Abidjan, the ECOWAS Commission became concerned that the Panel nevertheless took the decision to go ahead immediately with the visit without the participation of an important member, whose invaluable contribution to the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire deserves better appreciation and respect. In the circumstance, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, also a member of the High-Level Panel, declined the invitation to join the Delegation to Abidjan since the mob action was directed at ECOWAS.
While expressing the determination of the representatives of West Africa on the High-Level Panel to continue to cooperate with that body, the ECOWAS Commission wishes to make it clear that it cannot accept that the situation in Abidjan was conducive for such a critical mission and would, therefore, evaluate the work to be accomplished by the remaining members of the Panel at the appropriate time.
In the meantime, the ECOWAS Commission calls on all parties concerned to respect the integrity of members of the Panel as well as the will of the Ivorian people as expressed in the presidential run-off election and endorsed by ECOWAS and the AU.
The Commission wishes to put all those bent on exacerbating the already precarious situation in Côte d’Ivoire on notice that those responsible for abuses will be held individually and collectively accountable for their actions at the appropriate time.
Pasco Gerald Temple
Sierra Leone High Commission
Plot 308 Mission Road
Central Business District
Federal Capital Territory