France calls for UN force in Ivory Coast
ABIDJAN, Feb 5 (AFP) - France's top general on Thursday urged the United Nations deploy a peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast, one day after Security Council delayed sending troops amid US opposition.
“It would be a good thing if a United Nations force deployed rapidly because it would show the international community’s commitment to Ivory Coast,” said General Henri Bentegeat, chief of staff of the French army, at the end of a three-day visit to the country.
The UN Security Council on Wednesday renewed the mandate of the French operation in the troubled West African country, but put back the deployment of an international peacekeeping force.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan last month recommended that a force of more than 6,000 troops should be ready by February 4 to move into Ivory Coast.
But the United States has been holding up the deployment of the force, questioning the need for a new international mission.
The Wednesday resolution calls on Annan to prepare the deployment of a “possible” international peacekeeping force over the next five weeks, but sending the force requires Security Council approval.
At the moment, France has 4,000 troops in the West African country alongside forces from other African nations monitoring a ceasefire between government forces and rebels who launched an uprising in September 2002.
Although the guns have been mostly silent since a ceasefire was signed in July and former rebels have joined the government, Ivory Coast remains divided between the rebel-held north and west and the south, which is controlled by loyalists to President Laurent Gbagbo.
Subject: France news