The UN Security Council is threatening sanctions against Ivory Coast's former warring parties unless they abide by an April peace agreement. The council also authorized appointment of a monitor to ensure the fairness of upcoming Ivorian elections.
The council unanimously approved the French-drafted resolution a day after it was introduced. It threatens to impose a travel ban and assets freeze on any party interfering with efforts to bring peace to what was once considered West Africa's most stable country.
The measure also authorizes Secretary-General Kofi Annan to appoint a special representative to monitor the fairness of Ivory Coast's upcoming presidential and legislative elections.
French Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, who holds the Security Council's rotating presidency, called it an endorsement of the peace deal negotiated in April by South African President Thabo Mbeki.
“It demands that the parties implement fully the disarmament process without delay and first the resolution puts in place a high representative for the elections which is the main objective is to have an internal overseeing mechanism of the electoral process. His task will be to advise Ivorian and to make sure that elections will be open free fair and transparent,” said Mr. de La Sabliere.
The measure also extends the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast for three weeks, along with the French forces supporting it. The brief extension was granted to allow the U.S. Congress time to approve the addition of 1,200 U.N soldiers and police to the 6,000 strong force.
The United States contributes more than one-quarter of the U.N. peacekeeping budget, and Congress has demanded advance approval of any troop commitments as a cost-control measure.
A further extension of the peacekeeping mandate is expected later this month.
Ivory Coast's Ambassador Philippe Dhangone-Bi welcomed the additional troops and other measures in the resolution. But speaking to reporters afterward, he said his government finds it "incomprehensible" that France, the former colonial power, maintains a military contingent on Ivorian soil outside U.N. command.
“The duality of the command as it is now, on the one hand are the international forces under direct command of U.N., and another force, a national force under the national authority of these forces,” he said. “We had expected to have fusion of all the forces under a single command, that is a single command a single status to make it more operational, but we are not a member of the Security Council; apparently we were not heard.”
U.N. diplomats Friday expressed grave concern about the massacre this week that left around 70 people dead in the western town of Duekoue. Ambassador de La Sabliere said the Council has scheduled a briefing on the massacres next week from the head of U.N. peacekeeping operations.