UN to open 8 new bases in western Ivory Coast

AP News
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Posted: Jul 01, 2011 6:07 AM
UN to open 8 new bases in western Ivory Coast

The United Nations will open eight new peacekeeping bases in western Ivory Coast in an effort to restore law and order ahead of upcoming legislative elections, local U.N. mission chief Choi Young-jin said.

The bases will be located in areas where fighting was the fiercest in March, and where tens of thousands of people still refuse to return home in fear of reprisal attacks.

"There is a pressing need to restore law and order throughout the country," Choi told journalists on Thursday.

Former President Laurent Gbagbo was arrested in April after holding onto power for five months after he lost an election. Fighters loyal to the democratically elected leader Alassane Ouattara finally removed Gbagbo from power with the help of U.N. and French military forces.

The fighting during the political crisis left an estimated 3,000 people dead, and sent more than 1 million people fleeing their homes. The U.N. refugee agency says that 300,000 people are still displaced, more than two months after the fighting ended.

Human Rights groups allege that war crimes and crimes against humanity were committed by both sides during the power struggle over the presidency.

While 15 members of Gbagbo's government have been charged with crimes, not a single member of president Ouattara's forces has been arrested.

The International Criminal Court sent an investigation team to Ivory Coast last week and pledged to bring all those responsible for crimes to justice.