'Impose' peace on Ivory Coast, demands France

16th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 16 (AFP) - Peace must be "imposed" on Ivory Coast if the warring sides there refuse to abide by a ceasefire, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Tuesday, hailing sanctions voted by the UN Security Council against the west African state.

PARIS, Nov 16 (AFP) - Peace must be "imposed" on Ivory Coast if the warring sides there refuse to abide by a ceasefire, French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier said Tuesday, hailing sanctions voted by the UN Security Council against the west African state.

"There must be a lasting cessation of hostilities in the country," Barnier said on Europe 1 radio.

"If some parties don't immediately understand how to do that, then peace will have to be imposed," he added.

"That's the message the members of the UN Security Council were trying to send" by unanimously endorsing a French-proposed resolution calling for sanctions against Ivory Coast.

The 15-nation Security Council on Monday heeded a weekend call by African leaders and voted unanimously to impose an immediate arms embargo on Ivory Coast for a
13-month period.

The council also hung the threat of a targeted travel ban and assets freeze over individuals in the divided nation if steps are not taken by December 15 to implement a peace accord brokered by France in January last year to try to end the civil war that broke out in the former French colony in September 2002.

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 war planes in the north of the country, held by rebels since their failed coup bid against President Laurent Gbagbo in 2002 sparked the civil war.

French forces retaliated, wiping out the tiny nation's air force in a move that set off deadly anti-French and -foreign riots and vandalism that reportedly left dozens dead and sent thousands of Europeans fleeing.

Many Westerners who were airlifted out of Abidjan on board planes requisitioned by the French government, said on arrival in France that they had been the target of atrocities, including rape, during the pogroms in Ivory Coast.

Officials at a court in Bobigny, near Paris's Charles de Gaulle airport, where a special unit has been set up to deal with the influx of fleeing Westerners from Ivory Coast, said 75 complaints had been lodged by French evacuees from the former star French colony in west Africa, including three for rape.

"All the complaints concern attacks on property. The number of complaints is not final because others could be filed elsewhere in France," a prosecutor at the court, Patrick Poirret, told AFP.

Barnier said those responsible for the atrocities should be held accountable for their actions.

"We saw atrocities that are absolutely unacceptable," the French foreign minister said.

"Those who committed them must be held accountable," he said.

Barnier also assured European expatriates wishing to leave Ivory Coast that they "will be able to do so."

"Everyone, French, European, who chooses to leave because they no longer feel safe, because they are worried, will be able to do so," he said.

More than 5,500 foreigners have fled Ivory Coast since the country's civil war escalated sharply 10 days ago.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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