US President Barack Obama says he is deeply concerned by the security situation in Cote d’Ivoire and wants Laurent Gbagbo to step down immediately.

President Obama in a statement expressed strong support for the role that United Nations peacekeepers are playing as they enforce their mandate to protect civilians, and also welcomed the efforts of French forces supporting the UN mission.

He said “Tragically, the violence that we are seeing could have been averted had Laurent Gbagbo respected the results of last year’s presidential election.”

“To end this violence and prevent more bloodshed, former President Gbagbo must stand down immediately, and direct those who are fighting on his behalf to lay down their arms. Every day that the fighting persists will bring more suffering, and further delay the future of peace and prosperity that the people of Cote d’Ivoire deserve.”

The statement released by the public affairs section of the United States of America Embassy in Accra, quoted President Obama as saying “The people of Cote d’Ivoire have suffered too much throughout this period of unrest. The United States joins with the international community in our deep concern about reports of massacres in the western region of the country, and the dangers faced by innocent civilians – particularly the most vulnerable.

“All parties must show restraint and respect the rights of the Ivoirian people, and I welcome President Alassane Ouattara’s pledge to ensure accountability for those who have carried out attacks against civilians.”

The President also pledged the continued support of the United States for “a future in which Laurent Gbagbo stands down, and President Ouattara and the government of Cote d’Ivoire can move beyond this current crisis and serve all of the Ivoirian people.”

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