Ivory Coast TV pulled from airwaves

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UN forces patrol a street of Abidjan, Ivory Coast (AP)

Ivory Coast state television has disappeared from the airwaves outside the main city of Abidjan in an apparent victory for the man who the international community says won the disputed presidential election.

Black and white snow appeared on the state television channel, which has been a key point of conflict between the two men calling themselves president, in other Ivorian cities.

State TV has been one of the few sources of information left for Ivorians since foreign TV and radio were blocked three weeks ago.

The United Nations, the US, France and others say Alassane Ouattara won the presidential run-off, though incumbent Laurent Gbagbo has refused to concede defeat and step down from power.

Mr Gbagbo has remained in control of the military and the state media, allowing his allies to control the news seen by Ivorians.

Meanwhile, the United Nations said at least 173 people have died in violence over the disputed poll, and said it had not even been able to investigate all the reports which have fuelled fears of a return to civil war.

At a special session on Ivory Coast in Geneva, the UN deputy human rights commissioner detailed hundreds of arrests and detentions, and dozens of cases of torture and mistreatment in the West African country.

“Unfortunately it has been impossible to investigate all the allegations of serious human rights violations, including reports of mass graves, due to restrictions on movement by UN personnel,” Kyung-wha Kang told diplomats. “Indeed, the Special Representative of the secretary-general was stopped at gunpoint as he sought to verify such allegations.”

The Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution late on Thursday calling for an end to the violence. It strongly condemns the reported abductions, detentions, acts of sexual violence and other abuses.

Ms Kyung-wha also expressed concern about how state media was being controlled by political allies of Mr Gbagbo, who has refused to leave the presidency despite international calls for him to quit after the November 28 run-off vote.

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