France to ask for reinforcements in Ivory Coast

13th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, April 13 (AFP) - France will ask the international community to send more troops to Ivory Coast following the signing of a new peace deal there, Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said in an interview published Wednesday.

PARIS, April 13 (AFP) - France will ask the international community to send more troops to Ivory Coast following the signing of a new peace deal there, Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said in an interview published Wednesday.

"Once the return to barracks and the disarmament process begin, we will again be entering an extremely sensitive phase. We will again ask for a reinforcement of international troops," Alliot-Marie told Le Figaro.

Ivory Coast, once a haven of stability in west Africa, has been split in two since a failed coup against President Laurent Gbagbo in September 2002, pitting rebels from the Muslim-dominated north against the Christian-populated south.

Earlier this month, five Ivorian leaders signed a peace deal that calls for disarmament, resolving a dispute over the eligibility of presidential candidates and providing for the rebels' return to a unity government.

Some 6,000 UN peacekeepers and 4,000 French soldiers were deployed in the former French colony following the signing of an ill-fated French-brokered peace pact in January 2003. Their mandate has been extended through May 4.

France's Operation Unicorn "is not in Ivory Coast for the fun of it. Such a mission is expensive, we've lost soldiers there and we have no national interests there," Alliot-Marie noted.

"Sometimes I have the impression that the international community tells itself that the French, if they are there, are capable of handling all situations," the minister added.

The accord signed by Gbagbo, rebel and opposition leaders set out to resolve key issues that have dogged the peace process in the world's top cocoa grower since the signing of the Marcoussis pact in 2003.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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