UNITED NATIONS – U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon issued a blunt warning Thursday to followers of Ivory Coast’s defeated president: Back down from a threat to attack a U.N.-protected facility housing the country’s internationally recognized new president or face possible prosecution for war crimes.

The ultimatum reflects mounting concern over a threat Wednesday by Laurent Gbagbo’s trusted enforcer, Charles Ble Goude, a government minister who heads the militant Young Patriots group, to “liberate the Golf Hotel with our bare hands” on Saturday.

Ban fears that an assault on the Abidjan hotel, where 800 U.N. peacekeepers are protecting Alassane Ouattara and his inner circle, could “provoke widespread violence that could reignite civil war,” according to a statement issued by his office.

Ivory Coast has been in a state of turmoil since a Nov. 28 presidential runoff election ended with both candidates declaring victory. The country’s electoral commission concluded that Ouattara, 68, won the election, which was then certified by a U.N. representative. But the constitutional council, headed by a Gbagbo ally, rejected that outcome.