We caught up with Scott Sternsam (Scott Stearns) in Abidjan, a correspondent for Voice of America, West Africa, to clarify some of the circumstances connected with the recent indictment of Belarus in the illegal supply of helicopters to Ivory Coast.
PC: How did you hear about that Belarus allegedly violated the arms embargo on Côte d'Ivoire by sending helicopters there?
Scott SternsIt was a serious mistake on the part of the UN. As you know, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a statement that the first of the three attack helicopters arrived at the airport in Yamoussoukro on Sunday (February 27 — PC) and that the following two helicopters with some unspecified weapons will be delivered on Monday. He warned over measures in response against the vendor — it was assumed that military helicopters arrived from Belarus — and against the recipient, that is, the government, the slave Lyaranu Gbagbo. UN inspectors in Yamoussoukro have moved to the airport to try to find out what really happened, but they were driven out heavy fire. It should be noted that the authorities of Côte d'Ivoire, as well as Belarus objected to these charges from the beginning. Belarus stated that it has always held all the resolutions of the UN Security Council. And the government in Abidjan, through its press representative said that the UN and particularly Ban Ki-moon are lying to justify attacks against the government of Gbagbo. Well, it turns out that the UN was wrong and had to apologize to Belarus. The head of UN peacekeeping operations, Alain Le Roy, New York, said that in reality, no attack helicopters were delivered in Ivory lIvuar and that Ban's statement was untrue.
PC: The UN inspectors were not allowed in Yamoussoukro airport. So what really influenced the UN withdrew its recent statement? There are some new facts?
Scott Sterns: Just no one has presented any evidence that there were any helicopters. The UN inspectors were trying to figure this thing at the airport, but they were driven out. Ban Ki-moon wrote that one helicopter was already at the airport, and the other two were on the road. Now it turns out that the UN is at least proof that the helicopter was not there.
PC: Do you know what type of proof the UN managed to get it?
Scott Sterns: I do not know. But I do not think that Alain Le Roy has withdrawn an application to the Secretary General of the UN and would apologize to Belarus, relying solely on the government's objections to Gbagbo. The relationship between the current government in Côte d'Ivoire and the UN peacekeeping force has deteriorated in the last week. One of the commanders of the forces that remained loyal to Gbagbo Lyaranu, called on Gbagbo supporters to block the movement of UN peacekeepers in Ivory Coast, saying the peacekeepers to help the rebels supporting former Prime Minister Alasaniya Wataru, recognized by the UN last year's winner of the presidential elections in the country .
PC: And what is the situation in the place where you are? What's going on?
Scott Sterns: The violent clashes between supporters of Gbagbo and Watari in Abidjan, the economic capital of Cote d'Ivoire, expanding very rapidly. During the last week, most of these clashes occurred in the suburb of Abobo, which left about 30,000 civilians. Most neighborhoods of Abobo is now empty, and the area is mainly controlled by fighters loyal Uataru. Ada violence and clashes also spread to other suburbs of Abidjan, where the Youth League, the slave Gbagbo, established the so-called "vigilance committees" to expose all that they seem suspicious. One of the leaders of the Youth League said that all patriots Cote d' Ivoire are now members of the gendarmerie. Clearly what happened here a clear violation of law and order in Abidjan. Some say Gbagbo now equips these young civilian militias. All this is happening against the background of fighting government forces Uatary Gbagbo and the rebels near the border with Liberia, where previously as a result of the armistice buffer zone was established between these forces.