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Public Statements

Letter to The Honorable Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, Ranking Member Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Friday to express "deep concern" for the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire. The Senators were joined on the letter by Senators Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.).

"We are unified in calling for an immediate end to violence and protection for innocent civilians," the Senators wrote. "We call on former President Laurent Gbagbo to immediately step down, and we urge you to work with the international community to ensure his safe departure from Cote d'Ivoire."

"Mr. Gbagbo has been accused of forcefully thwarting the will of the Ivoirian people, and his forces, reportedly including mercenaries, have been accused of targeting innocent civilians, including women, as well as the United Nations mission," the Senators wrote. "This violence must stop, and we must continue to strongly support international efforts to eliminate the heavy weapons assaults. We must also support coordinated international efforts to assist the tens of thousands of Ivorian refugees and protect civilians, peacekeepers, and members of the diplomatic community."

The text of the letter follows:

April 8, 2011

The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Department of State
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Madame Secretary:

We are writing to express our deep concern regarding the ongoing crisis in Cote d'Ivoire. We appreciate your leadership on this critical issue and share your view that two issues are paramount: first, the fulfillment of Cote d'Ivoire's democratic process, and second, the protection of civilians. We are unified in calling for an immediate end to violence and protection for innocent civilians. We call on former President Laurent Gbagbo to immediately step down, and we urge you to work with the international community to ensure his safe departure from Cote d'Ivoire.

The United Nations, African Union, and international community have all recognized the legitimacy of the November 2010 elections in Cote d'Ivoire and the victory of Alassane Ouattara. Africa has seen too many elections result in unrest and manipulation, and democratic institution building in the region would suffer as a result of the de-legitimization of the Ivorian election. The African Union, United Nations, and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have clearly affirmed President Ouattara's victory, and it is past time that Mr. Gbagbo recognized the results of the recent election.

Mr. Gbagbo has been accused of forcefully thwarting the will of theIvoirian people, and his forces, reportedly including mercenaries, have been accused of targeting innocent civilians, including women, as well as the United Nations mission. This violence must stop, and we must continue to strongly support international efforts to eliminate the heavy weapons assaults. We must also support coordinated international efforts to assist the tens of thousands of Ivorian refugees and protect civilians, peacekeepers, and members of the diplomatic community.

Civilian protection is an obligation for all the parties in this conflict, and there have been disturbing reports of mass atrocities committed by both sides that demand investigation. It is incumbent on President Ouattara to lead his forces in a mannerconsistent with international standards, which must also be upheld by UN and international peacekeepers. Those found responsible for perpetrating violence must be held accountable for their actions.

Finally, we urge you to continue working with the United Nations, African Union, and member states to help create a more stable future for Cote d'Ivoire. This situation will not end with a transfer of power at the presidential palace. Rather, it will require committed efforts by the Ouattara government to promote reunification, reconstruction, and reconciliation, which will necessitate continued engagement from the international community and ongoing American leadership. We look forward to working with you on these important matters of security, peace, and accountability in Cote d'Ivoire.

Sincerely,

Senator Christopher A. Coons
Senator Johnny Isakson
Senator John Kerry
Senator Saxby Chambliss
Senator Benjamin L. Cardin
Senator Sherrod Brown
Senator Claire McCaskill


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