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In Ivory Coast, more deadly violence as standoff persists

By the CNN Wire Staff
Barricades set up by supporters of incumbent Laurent Gbagbo block U.N. peacekeepers in Abidjan's Abobo neighborhood.
Barricades set up by supporters of incumbent Laurent Gbagbo block U.N. peacekeepers in Abidjan's Abobo neighborhood.
  • At least five people have died in new clashes
  • The U.N. Security Council urges peaceful resolution
  • 25,000 Ivorian refugees are now in Liberia

Abidjan, Ivory Coast (CNN) -- At least five people were killed Tuesday in clashes between police and supporters of Ivory Coast's president-elect as a tense political standoff continued Tuesday in the West African nation.

The governor of Abidjan said three police officers and two demonstrators were killed. The violence comes a day after the U.N. Security Council deplored the violence in the country since the November 28 election and "urged all parties to exercise restraint."

The cocoa-producing West African nation was plunged into crisis when Alassane Ouattara was declared the winner of the presidential runoff election, but incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refused to leave office.

The Security Council expressed its backing for the efforts by the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States in pursuing a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

At the same time, the council repeated its readiness "to impose measures, including targeted sanctions against people "who threaten the peace process," block the work of the U.N. mission and other international people there or "commit serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law."

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Meanwhile, Ouattara is willing to add supporters of self-proclaimed president Gbagbo to his Cabinet, provided the defiant incumbent steps down, the West African nation's ambassador to the United Nations said Monday.

Ambassador Youssoufou Bamba said Ouattara would not enter a power-sharing government similar to that in Zimbabwe but that he would be open to a unity cabinet.

U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq could not confirm any such offer from the Ouattara government and said that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon still called for Gbagbo to step down in favor of an orderly transition.

Ouattara told CNN last week that he welcomes a proposal for direct negotiations with Gbagbo -- on the condition that Gbagbo recognize Ouattara as president.

But in a telephone interview on Tuesday, Gbagbo's government spokesman, Ahoua Don Melo, rejected the proposal, saying Ouattara "should first go to the Constitutional Council to get recognized as the president before making any proposal."

An independent election commission declared Ouattara the winner of the runoff election in November, but the country's Constitutional Council then declared Gbagbo the winner.

The U.S. Treasury froze Gbagbo's assets in the United States last week and barred Americans from doing business with him. His wife and three top aides also were sanctioned.

Ouattara remains holed up in the Golf Hotel under the protection of U.N. peacekeepers.

The United Nations and an ever-increasing number of other nations have recognized Ouattara, a former prime minister, as the rightful winner.

The United States and other countries have offered Gbagbo what they call a "dignified exit," which could mean living and working in other countries, including the United States.

Gbagbo, however, has ignored those offers and has refused to accept telephone calls from U.S. officials.

Ouattara has said he will ensure protection for Gbagbo if he concedes, said Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, the African Union envoy for a multinational mediation effort.

The U.N. Security Council welcomed AU and ECOWAS' intention to send "another joint high-level mission as soon as possible to continue discussions with the two parties."

It expressed deep concern over continued violence and human rights violations, including against U.N. peacekeepers, and "condemned deliberate attempts to impede the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire from fulfilling its mandate," referring to the country by its French name.

Security Council members also "strongly condemned and demanded an immediate halt" to media efforts to "propagate false information to incite hatred and violence." Council members also condemned the ongoing blockade around the Golf Hotel.

Meanwhile, the U.N. refugee agency is building a refugee camp for Ivorians fleeing to neighboring Liberia. The camp will initially be capable of housing some 18,000 refugees.

At present, there are about 25,000 Ivorian refugees in Liberia, with about 600 people arriving daily.

"Refugees continue to tell us that in most cases they are fleeing fear of violence rather than actual violence against them," said the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

The UNHCR has sufficient relief supplies for about 30,000 people in Liberia and said it "is ready to mobilize stocks from Ghana for an additional 30,000 people if the need arises."

CNN's Whitney Hurst contributed to this report.