UN threatens Ivory Coast sanctions

The UN Security Council has warned Ivory Coast's government and rebel leaders that they would be hit with sanctions if they failed to carry out their commitments under a new peace initiative.

    An arms embargo is already in effect on the W African nation

    The threat on Thursday came in a statement adopted unanimously by the 15-nation council praising South African President Thabo Mbeki's drive to put a definitive end to a civil war that began in the West African nation two years ago.
    The statement warned that measures targeting as-yet unspecified individuals on both sides of the conflict could be quickly geared up in the event of "any failure by any Ivorian party to respect their commitments made to President Mbeki".
    Mbeki, asked by the African Union to lead mediation efforts in the world's leading cocoa grower, said after a five-day visit to Ivory Coast this month that all sides had agreed to speed implementation of a French-brokered 2003 peace plan.

    A resolution adopted by the council on 15 November had called for a travel ban and an asset freeze to be imposed on unspecified individuals in Ivory Coast.
    While the provision took effect on Wednesday, it as yet has no teeth as council members decided this week to delay actually naming the individuals to be targeted by the measures.


    They said they did so to give Mbeki bargaining power as he pressured the parties to fulfill their commitments under the peace deal.

    Chief negotiator Thabo Mbeki (R) 
    met with Laurent Gbagbo (L)

    The resolution charges a special Security Council committee with compiling the list of names to be punished.

    Thursday's statement instructed the committee, chaired by German Ambassador Gunter Pleuger, "to continue its work, taking fully into account the developments of the peace process".

    An arms embargo is already in effect on Ivory Coast, imposed by the same 15 November resolution, and the statement said the council intended to take unspecified additional steps to ensure the embargo is effectively monitored and enforced.

    Ivory Coast has been divided for two years since rebels hoping to oust President Laurent Gbagbo seized the north, leaving the south in government hands.

    Some 10,000 UN and French peacekeepers monitor a buffer zone running across the country's middle and separating the two sides.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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