UN extends Ivory Coast mandate until December

25th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 24, 2006 (AFP) - The Security Council on Tuesday extended until December 15 the mandate of UN peacekeepers in Ivory Coast and of the French forces backing them, but made no decision on a request for an increase of the force.

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 24, 2006 (AFP) - The Security Council on Tuesday extended until December 15 the mandate of UN peacekeepers in Ivory Coast and of the French forces backing them, but made no decision on a request for an increase of the force.

The 15-member council unanimously adopted a resolution stating that the respective mandates of the UN force and of the 4,000-strong French contingent backing them shall be extended until December 15, 2006, well after presidential elections due to be held before October 31.

It also decided to hold off on a decision on UN chief Kofi Annan's request for a 50 percent increase of the 7,000-strong UN force which is known as ONUCI.

US officials have said they will oppose any increase of ONUCI strength.

The council said it planned "to keep under review the tasks and the troop level of UNOCI ... taking into account the situations in both Cote d'Ivoire and (neighbouring) Liberia in light of the progress in the implementation of the roadmap" set up to lead the former French colony to free and fair elections no later than October 31, 2006.

UN officials in Liberia have placed the border with Ivory Coast under surveillance, fearing unrest there could spill over and spoil the fragile peace in Liberia.

Liberians have been recruited to fight in neighbouring wars in the past.

The council resolution was adopted as its sanctions committee sought to reach common ground on targeted sanctions against individuals blamed for last week's anti-UN disturbances in Ivory Coast.

Greek ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis, who chairs the council's sanctions committee, said his panel would consult with two key mediators in the Ivorian crisis -- Nigeria and South Africa -- before reaching a decision on who should be targeted for a freeze of assets and sanctions.

He said a new meeting of the committee would be held later this week.

Citing the volatile security situation in Ivory Coast ahead of the planned elections later this year, Annan earlier this month had sought permission from the council for the temporary deployment of four additional battalions, of 3,400 troops and 475 policemen, for ONUCI.

Last Thursday, backers of Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo ended four days of anti-UN disturbances after the Security Council condemned the violence and renewed threats of sanctions against individuals blocking the peace process, and those "who incite publicly hatred and violence."

The protests had been called over anger at the UN-backed International Working Group (IWG) that the mandate of the current Ivorian parliament, which expired last month but was extended at Gbagbo's request, should end.

The aim of the IWG move was to strengthen Ivorian Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny, a respected economist brought in by consensus to oversee military pullbacks from front lines, disarm rebels holding the north since September 2002, and hold elections.

The council recalled that it endorsed the IWG decision regarding parliament and reaffirmed that the IWG mandate was "to assist the prime minister and his government in the implementation of the roadmap it has established".

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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