30 Dec 2010

Ivory Coast UN ambassador warns of genocide risk

6:41 pm on 30 December 2010

Ivory Coast's newly appointed ambassador to the United Nations has warned the country is "on the brink of genocide".

In a TV interview, Youssoufou Bamba said there had been large scale violation of human rights as a result of the ongoing political unrest.

Laurent Gbagbo is refusing to step down despite his rival, Alassane Ouattara, being internationally accepted as the presidential election winner.

The UN has accused state media of inciting hatred against it reports the BBC.

Mr Gbagbo has said Mr Ouattara's victory in November was illegitimate. Both men have been sworn in as president.

Mr Bamba, who was appointed by Mr Ouattara, was formally welcomed at the UN's New York headquarters on Wednesday, solidifying UN support for Mr Ouattara.

At a press conference, Mr Bamba said Mr Ouattara had been elected in a "free, fair, transparent, democratic election".

Mr Bamba said Mr Ouattara's main concern now was the "massive violation of human rights" in the past few weeks.

He said 172 people had been killed "only because they want to demonstrate, they want to speak out, they want to defend the will of the people".

"We think it's unacceptable. Thus, one of the messages I try to get across during the conversations I have conducted so far, is [that] we are on the brink of genocide."

Mr Bamba said some houses had been marked according to the residents' tribal background, and that he was concerned about what could happen next.

"Something should be done," he said.