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Diplomats Request Sanctions Against Ivory Coast Police

Foreign diplomats have condemned Ivory Coast's Republican Guard police for blocking the prime minister's security escort. As Franz Wild reports for VOA from Abidjan, they say the United Nations may impose sanctions on those responsible.

Aiming to spark Ivory Coast's floundering peace process back into life, diplomats meeting the main city, Abidjan, discussed proposals till late into Friday night.

The West African, Western and United Nations representatives unanimously agreed state authorities who answer to President Laurent Gbagbo are disobeying U.N. Security Council resolutions and can therefore expect to have sanctions imposed on them.

One incident shocked them in particular. After meeting the diplomats on Friday, Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny, who was appointed a year ago as a neutral peace bringer, was not allowed to enter a Cabinet meeting with his U.N. escort.

The U.N. chief in Ivory Coast and the meeting's chair, Pierre Schori, said the behavior by the special police branch, which blocked the cortege, was unacceptable.

"They have the right to circulate freely. We decided not only to condemn this, but also to make a report on the Republican Guard to the Sanctions Committee of the United Nations," he said.

A month-old U.N. Security Council resolution has so far failed to breathe new life into peace efforts.

President Gbagbo says he is fed up with foreign interference and will come up with his own plan to reunite the country.

Meanwhile, rebels who control the north since a 2002 failed coup have been be left out of the spotlight. But President Gbagbo has had a standoff with Mr, Banny, who has publicly criticized the president for not acting in the interest of the people.

Mr. Gbagbo then fired the head of the state television, which aired Mr. Banny's statement criticising the President's decision to reinstate three senior officials he (Mr. Banny) had fired in September, in connection with the toxic waste scandal.

The diplomats denounced the president's action, arguing it went against the peace accords, which are to lead Ivory Coast to presidential elections, unity and peace.