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Higher Defense Council Seeks to Find Safe Exit for Lebanese in Ivory Coast

The Higher Defense Council is scheduled to hold an extraordinary meeting at Baabda palace under President Michel Suleiman at 1:30 pm Tuesday to discuss ways at finding a safe exit for Lebanese expatriates in violence-torn Ivory Coast.

The meeting is rare since it comes at a time of a political vacuum and in the absence of a Lebanese government.

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Lebanon Resorts to U.N. for Help as Lebanese Flee to Dakar from Ivory Coast Violence

Lebanon’s ambassador to the U.N. Nawaf Salam will ask Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to deploy more U.N. troops in cities in the Ivory Coast where most Lebanese are concentrated and help them overcome the difficult conditions in the violence-torn country.

Salam told Speaker Nabih Berri during a telephone conversation that he would meet with Ban on Monday.

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Peacekeepers Take Control of Airport in Abidjan

Peacekeepers have taken control of the airport in Abidjan as forces loyal to the country's rival presidents’ struggle for control of Ivory Coast's main city, the French military said Sunday.

France has also boosted its Licorne (Unicorn) peacekeeping mission in the cocoa-rich nation by 300 to around 1,400 troops, where part of their mission is to protect foreigners from attacks and looting amid rising insecurity.

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U.S. Demands Gbagbo Step Down 'Immediately'

The United States early Sunday called on Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo to step down immediately, saying he was pushing the West African nation into lawlessness.

"The United States calls on former President Laurent Gbagbo to step down immediately," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement.

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Berri: Policy We Adopted Has Helped Lebanese Avoid Ivory Coast Violence

Speaker Nabih Berri condemned criticism directed against the policy that was used in addressing Lebanese expatriates in the Ivory Coast given the dispute between President Laurent Gbagbo and incumbent President Alassane Outtara.

He told An Nahar in remarks published on Sunday: “Lebanon’s decision to stand by Gbagbo was right because tens of thousands of expatriates in Abidjan live in areas that he controls.”

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Gbagbo's Supporters Accused of Massacres in Ivory Coast

Mass graves have allegedly been found in western Ivory Coast as a picture emerged Saturday of carnage amid fierce post-election battles, which the ICRC said claimed 800 lives in a single day.

The government of internationally recognized president Alassane Ouattara said numerous mass graves had been found, "especially in Toulepleu, Blolequin and Guiglo, whose authors are none other than the loyal forces, mercenaries and militias of Laurent Gbagbo."

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Lebanese in Ivory Coast under Threat as Lebanon’s Ambassador Assures Plane Tickets and Aid Being Provided

The Lebanese Ambassador to the Ivory Coast Ali Ajami stressed on Tuesday that the situation in the African country is “getting more complicated as the political and security situations are unstable.”

He added to Voice of Lebanon radio on Tuesday that the Lebanese expatriates are being robbed, saying that several of them have already left the country.

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Lebanese Embassy in Abidjan Threatened, Advises Expatriates to Exercise Caution

The Lebanese Embassy in Abidjan revealed on Monday that it received a threat by an individual claiming to be speaking on behalf of the “invisible commandos” warning foreign expatriates, especially the Lebanese one, against meddling in the Ivory Coast’s political affairs.

The embassy said in a statement that the letter was received by email, adding that the commandos announced that they were behind the kidnapping and murder of Lebanese citizen Ali Khalil Fawwz.

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2,000 Lebanese Flee Abidjan While Many of Them Cannot Afford to Leave

The Lebanese Ambassador to the Ivory Coast Ali Ajami assured that the Lebanese expatriates in the African country are safe and they are not being targeted in the violence.

He told As Safir in remarks published on Friday: “The situation is difficult and worrying, but it is not as dramatic as the media is making it seem.”

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Report: Three Lebanese Victims in Ivory Coast Violence

Fears grew for the safety of civilians in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s tense economic capital, amid reports about three Lebanese victims in the clashes between supporters of two rival presidents.

Charbel Zainoun, a Lebanese national residing in the African country, told Voice of Lebanon radio station on Thursday about the three Lebanese without saying if they were killed or injured.

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