Pressure is mounting on Ivory Coast's defiant leader Laurent Gbagbo to step down in favour of the internationally recognised November elections winner, Alassane Ouattara. The country’s top elections officer called Mr Ouattara the election winner on December 2, by nearly nine-points. But a day later, the head of the Constitutional Council, who is close to president Gbagbo, threw out votes from parts of the north —Mr Ouattara’s stronghold — because of what he called “flagrant irregularities.” Since then, the country has been running with two parallel presidents.
The United Nations claims that at least 179 people have died in post-election violence and the rising violence raises concerns that the West African country could slip back into full-scale civil war. In 2002-03 fighting split the Ivory Coast between its north and south. It is feared that if the conflict restarted it would also destabilise fragile neighbouring countries such as Liberia.
Paul Gbato, Director of SOS Children’s Villages Côte d’Ivoire, has reported of continued violence especially in Abobo and in towns in the west and southwest of the country, such as Duekoue and Lakota. He said: “Hospitals and schools have been forced to shut down from time to time due to violent incidents. The prevailing situation in Abobo also affects the operation of our projects (especially our School, Family Strengthening Programmes and Medical Centre) which have had to close temporarily. Additionally, we have difficulties in purchasing food as the prices on the markets have increased significantly. However, there are no threats currently directed against any of our projects in Abobo, Aboisso and Yamoussoukro.”At present there are two SOS Children's Villages in Côte d'Ivoire, two SOS Youth Homes, two SOS Nurseries, two SOS Schools, two SOS Social Centres and one SOS Medical Centre.