France urges UN heavy weapons ban in I.Coast

25th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday called on the United Nations Security Council to slap a ban on heavy weapons in the Ivory Coast commercial capital Abidjan.

Speaking at the close of a two-day EU summit, Sarkozy said France had called on the Security Council to adopt a resolution enforcing such a ban.

"It's scandalous that there's heavy weapons fire in Abidjan," Sarkozy said. "The least is to declare Abidjan banned to heavy arms."

"France has filed a resolution to the Security Council," he said after Paris filed a draft proposal overnight.

The draft asks the mandate of UN peacekeepers stationed in the troubled West African nation to be strengthened to enforce a heavy weapons ban in the city.

Sarkozy's call came after West African leaders made a similar demand to beef up the UN mission in Ivory Coast.

The Economic Community of West African States said it wants the mission to "use all necessary means to protect life and property" and to help transfer power to internationally recognized president Alassane Ouattara.

UN officials say the escalation of violence and use of heavy weaponry, particularly in urban areas, is taking an increasing toll on civilians.

© 2011 AFP

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