UN Security Council extends Ivory Coast sanctions

Source: Reuters

* Sanctions, diamond trade ban set until Oct. 31, 2010 * Election set for next month likely to be delayed * Ivory Coast ambassador says disappointed by extensions By Michelle Nichols UNITED NATIONS, Oct 29 (Reuters) – The U.N. Security Council renewed on Thursday arms, financial and travel sanctions on the Ivory Coast for another year as well as a ban on trade in rough diamonds from the West African country. Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer and once a beacon of stability and relative prosperity, has stagnated since rebels tried to oust President Laurent Gbagbo in a 2002-2003 war that left the country split in two. The U.N. arms embargo was imposed in 2004 over violations of a 2003 cease-fire between the government and the rebels. A U.N. report this week said both sides have continued re-arming, despite plans for an election to reunite the country. The 15-member council unanimously renewed the sanctions and diamond trade ban until Oct. 31, 2010, and said it would review the measures three months after open, free, fair and transparent presidential elections, or by April 30, 2010. The long-delayed vote is set for Nov. 29, but election officials have said delays in preparing the poll will make it all but impossible to organize an election next month. [ID:nLG616915] The council said “that the situation in the Ivory Coast continues to pose a threat to international peace and security in the region.” Ivory Coast’s U.N. Ambassador Ilahiri Djedje told the council his country was disappointed by the action. He said the Ivory Coast “had expected to today obtain a clear commitment by the Security Council in favor of a lifting of sanctions following the presidential elections.” “There is no reason why individual sanctions should be maintained,” he said. “The resolution adopted today is not tailored to assist Ivorians in their process of reconciliation.” In a related move, the U.N. report on international compliance with U.N. Ivory Coast sanctions this week demanded that neighboring Burkina Faso investigate “systematic” weapons transfers to the Ivory Coast’s rebel-controlled north. [ID:nN27270519] It also said countries needed to step up efforts to enforce the four-year-old U.N. ban on buying rough diamonds from the Ivory Coast. [ID:nN28261061] The council requested another report on the Ivory Coast by April 15 next year. The Ivory Coast election is intended to seal a March 2007 peace agreement between Gbagbo and the northern rebels. Peacekeepers from the United Nations and former colonial master France are backing the election process. Gbagbo plans to run for re-election against his arch-rivals Alassane Outtara and Henri Konan Bedie. (Editing by Xavier Briand)
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