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Why Can't Ivory Coast Get A No-Fly Zone Like Libya?

Thousands of young supporters of Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo gathered to enroll in his army, on March 21, 2011 in Abidjan. i i

hide captionThousands of young supporters of Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo gathered to enroll in his army, on March 21, 2011 in Abidjan.

SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images
Thousands of young supporters of Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo gathered to enroll in his army, on March 21, 2011 in Abidjan.

Thousands of young supporters of Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo gathered to enroll in his army, on March 21, 2011 in Abidjan.

SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images

That's what the country's internationally recognized president wants to know. Alassane Ouattara asked the United Nations to authorize the use of legitimate force to protect civilians in his West African country. The AP reports some 11,000 UN peacekeepers are in the country and many protect Ouattara against fighters loyal to the hold-over president, Laurent Gbagbo; he won't give up power even though he lost last year's election.

The UN estimates 200,000 Ivorians are displaced because of increased violence between Gbagbo and Ouattara supporters.

But the UN's Ivory Coast mandate doesn't cover military air attacks to protect Ivorian civilians. The peacekeepers are to monitor the situation and disarm militias. Civilians are to be protected 'under imminent threat of physical violence, within (UN peackeepers') capabilities and areas of deployment'.

The UN entered Ivory Coast to help residents recover from a civil war and stage new elections. Elections were held in December and disregarded; now NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reports thousands of young Ivorian men and women are signing up to fight for Gbagbo. Thousands of Ivorian civilians are trying to flee the country to Liberia on the west or Ghana on the east.

Liberia and Nigeria say the world must focus on West Africa; Radio Netherlands reports the leaders are warning the entire region risks deadly instability.

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