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African Union Pushes for Arms Embargo Against Ivory Coast


At an emergency summit, the African Union has condemned the violence in Ivory Coast over the past two weeks. The AU supports the United Nations resolution to impose sanctions and an arms embargo against Ivory Coast, in an effort to prevent further military action.

Nigerian president and chairman of the African Union, Olusegun Obasanjo, says the AU is continuing to monitor the situation in Ivory Coast, and peace agreements need to be implemented immediately.

"Marcoussis and Accra III agreements, these agreements should be implemented forthwith," he said. "We are remaining constructively engaged and we have also called for a meeting of the AU peace and security council."

A number of nations in West Africa have been struggling to emerge from civil wars and the recent violence in Ivory Coast is causing widespread concern that it could spill across borders.

Heads of state from several African countries attended the emergency summit. The executive secretary of the Economic Community of West African States, Mohamed Ibn Chambas, says all of the African leaders agreed that sanctions should be imposed against Ivory Coast.

"They have called for an arms embargo, immediately," said Mr. Chambas. "They have called for the UN, which is discussing a resolution now on Cote d'Ivoire to go ahead with that resolution. And, that resolution talks about sanctions against individuals and groups that will be seen as standing in the way of peace,"

The AU has called on Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo to implement political reforms outlined in the peace agreements, and it is also calling on the rebels occupying the north of the country to begin the disarmament process.

President Gbagbo declined an invitation to attend the meeting in Nigeria, and sent the speaker of the National Assembly, Mamadou Coulibaly in his place.

President Gbagbo has lashed out at his country's former colonial power, accusing France of supporting the rebels in the north. The French military destroyed the Ivorian air force after its aircraft bombed a French peacekeeping position 10 days ago, killing nine French soldiers.

President Gbagbo says he will buy new warplanes in order to protect his country. But if the U.N. Security Council passes the resolution Monday, that will not be possible. The AU also called on President Gbagbo to restore water and electricity in rebel-held territory, saying there is concern that he may be planning new attacks in the north.