France seeks urgent UN vote on I. Coast sanctions

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France is pressing for an urgent vote on a UN Security Council resolution imposing sanctions against Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo, but is facing resistance, diplomats said Wednesday.

Brazil, China, India and Russia are opposed to the scope of the sanctions being proposed in the resolution which France and Nigeria officially put before the 15-nation council in the early hours of Wednesday.

Gbagbo has refused to hand over power to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of an election last November. More than one million people in the West African nation have now fled their homes fearing civil war, according to the United Nations.

While forces loyal to Ouattara seized new territory in Ivory Coast on Wednesday, negotiations on the sanctions resolution were being held at the UN headquarters and France wanted a vote later in the day or on Thursday, diplomats said.

"Some countries are opposed to the scope of the sanctions and references to the International Criminal Court," said one council diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The draft resolution is the first that would explicitly call on Gbagbo to stand down. Gbagbo, his wife Simone, three of his closest associates are also named for a travel ban and assets freeze.

© 2011 AFP

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