France threatens UN sanctions over Ivory Coast

19th September 2005, Comments 0 comments

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 18 (AFP) - French foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy on Sunday dangled the threat of UN sanctions against parties blocking a peace process in strife-torn Ivory Coast, a former French colony.

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 18 (AFP) - French foreign minister Philippe Douste-Blazy on Sunday dangled the threat of UN sanctions against parties blocking a peace process in strife-torn Ivory Coast, a former French colony.

In a speech before the UN General Assembly, Douste-Blazy said: "All Ivorian parties must understand that they cannot, with impunity, obstruct peace efforts with hateful speeches or by questioning democratic rules."

"The Security Council will assume its responsibilities," Douste-Blazy warned. "Each side must respect the commitments made so free and transparent elections can be held throughout the country."

The UN Security Council has imposed an embargo on arms to Ivory Coast and can also activate at any time a system of sanctions against some Ivorian personalities deemed an obstacle to peace.

An ad hoc committee of the council has drawn up a list of people suspected of blocking the peace process, inciting hatred or violating the arms embargo. But at the request of Pretoria, which was asked by the African Union (AU) last November to mediate in the crisis, the sanctions have not been applied.

The AU asked South Africa to spearhead international efforts to ensure progress toward reunification after a 2003 Ivorian peace deal stalled, with UN sanctions threatened against the country if an agreed timetable is not kept.

But the mediation by South African President Thabo Mbeki has failed to break a deadlock between the two rival sides.

The Ivorian rebels accused Mbeki of having ulterior motives of economic expansionism, giving biased rulings and reportedly selling arms to Gbagbo's government.

The rebels demanded Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo step down and play no part in a political transition.

Last week, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said it would be impossible to hold presidential elections as planned in Ivory Coast on October 30 and hinted at international sanctions against the warring sides there.

Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer and once a haven of stability in West Africa, has been split in two since a failed coup against Gbagbo in September 2002, pitting rebels from the Muslim-dominated north against the Christian-populated south.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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