Arms embargo on Ivory Coast

The UN Security Council has voted unanimously to impose an immediate arms embargo on Ivory Coast for a 13-month period.

    The UN hopes embargo will take the gun out of Ivorian politics

    Seeking to revive a struggling peace process in the west African nation on Tuesday, the 15-nation council put the embargo in place in a bid to defuse tension in the former French colony.

     

    The measure could also put a targeted travel ban and asset freeze on individuals in the divided nation by 15 December if key steps are not taken to implement the stalled peace accord.

      

    France drafted the resolution earlier this month after nine French peacekeepers and a US aid worker were killed in an air strike by Ivorian government warplanes in the north of the country.

      

    French forces responded by wiping out the tiny nation's air force in a move that set off deadly anti-French and anti-foreigner riots and vandalism that reportedly left dozens dead.

      

    "The Security Council has never stopped saying that there is no military solution for the crisis in Ivory Coast. There is only a political solution," French ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said after the vote.

      

    Delays

     

    France had originally wanted to impose an immediate embargo but ran into opposition last week from China and other council members, who instead wanted to give the African Union time to mediate a solution.

     

    "The Security Council has never stopped saying that there is no military solution for the crisis in Ivory Coast. There is only a political solution"

     

    Jean-Marc de La Sabliere,
    French ambassador

    But at a summit over the weekend, African leaders called for no delay in imposing the arms embargo on Ivory Coast, which has been divided since a coup attempt in September 2002 against President Laurent Gbagbo set off civil war.

     

    Both the government and rebels have since lagged in implementing a subsequent peace accord.

     

    De La Sabliere in particular cited two crucial stumbling blocks - the failure of the rebels to disarm and the delay in altering a constitutional amendment that critics say is intended to block a Gbagbo rival from running in elections next year.

      

    Government discontent

     

    Ivory Coast's UN ambassador, Philippe Djangone-Bi, said after the vote: "We take note of it but we want to make it clear - it is unfair and conducted in an unfair manner."

     

    He accused France of becoming "practically party to the conflict".

      

    The government air raids earlier this month targeted positions held by rebels in the north.

     

    Rebel leader Guillaume Soro has described the air raids as a "coup d'etat" and accused Gbagbo of pushing the country back towards war to serve his own political interests.

    SOURCE: AFP


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