Accessibility links

Security Council Slaps Sanctions on Ivory Coast

The U.N. Security Council has imposed an immediate arms embargo on Ivory Coast. The vote was unanimous.

The French-drafted resolution clamps an arms embargo on both the Ivory Coast government and the rebels that control the north of the country. The embargo and other sanctions, including a freeze on the assets of some unnamed individuals, will be in effect for 13 months, beginning immediately.

An earlier version would have given the two sides 30 days to work out their differences over a failed peace agreement. But a vote was delayed to give the African Union a last chance to patch up the peace process.

France's U.N. ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said when that effort failed, African Union officials asked for immediate action.

"The African Union has considered that it was necessary to have an immediate arms embargo, and I must say, it's logic. When everyone is in favor of a political solution, it means there is no military solution so political solution means also an arms embargo," he said.

The conflict in Ivory Coast escalated this month after government warplanes bombed French peacekeepers in the northern town of Bouake, killing nine. France retaliated by destroying most of the Ivory Coast air force and demanding an arms embargo.

As African Union efforts to patch up the crisis were collapsing, Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo vowed in a French radio interview to buy new planes to replace those that had been destroyed.

After Monday's Security Council vote, Ambassador Philippe Djangone-Bi called the sanctions unfair. He complained that France, the former colonial power in Ivory Coast, was practically a party to the conflict in his country, and charged that the arms embargo would hit the government but not the rebels.

"Is it fair? How do we ensure the security of our people, our institutions, our government, when the rebels through their channels can continue getting arms as they have done thus far," he asked. "They do not need an embargo to stop, they know how to do it, but for a government it is very severe. We take note of it. But we want to make it clear that it is unfair, and conducted in an unfair manner."

The top United Nations expert on prevention of genocide Monday called on Ivory Coast officials to condemn hate speech broadcast on national television and radio. Hate messages were said to have been responsible for attacks on foreigners. Five-thousand mostly French nationals were evacuated following violent clashes last week.

Ivory Coast, once one of Africa's most stable countries, has been engulfed in civil war since rebels opposed to President Gbagbo seized the north two years ago. More than 10,000 French and U.N. peacekeepers were sent to end the fighting.