France sounds alarm over Ivory Coast unrest

18th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 18, 2006 (AFP) - French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie voiced deep concern on Wednesday over escalating unrest in Ivory Coast, while France's army chief of staff called for sanctions to be imposed.

PARIS, Jan 18, 2006 (AFP) - French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie voiced deep concern on Wednesday over escalating unrest in Ivory Coast, while France's army chief of staff called for sanctions to be imposed.

Calling the situation "extremely worrying", Alliot-Marie said: "It is essential that all of this calm down and that the international decisions are implemented."

Clashes between UN troops and supporters of Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo left at least three Ivorians dead on Wednesday as the political crisis worsened in the divided west African country.

Gbagbo's backers oppose moves by UN-backed mediators to have the country's parliament dissolved to give more clout to the government of Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny, tasked with organising presidential elections by October.

The growing unrest caused Air France to cancel its scheduled Thursday flight to Abidjan, following massive passenger cancellations, although the company said that it still planned to operate its daily service on Friday.

A spokesman for the French foreign ministry said that it was "watching the situation in Ivory Coast, both what is happening on the ground and declarations that are made, with the utmost vigilance."

Earlier Wednesday, French army chief of staff General Henri Bentegeat said that "the time had come" for the Security Council to make good its threat of imposing sanctions on Ivory Coast.

"The situation goes against the rules laid down by the UN," he said in a radio interview.

Ivory Coast's former colonial ruler, France has deployed 4,000 troops to the country to operate alongside a UN peacekeeping force.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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