UN mulls arms embargo on Ivory Coast

UN mulls arms embargo on Ivory Coast

ABIDJAN – Top Ivory Coast and French officials appealed for calm yesterday, pledging to cooperate to put down a wave of unrest that left at least 13 dead and hundreds injured in the divided west African state.

The UN Security Council, meanwhile, was debating a French proposal for an arms embargo against Ivory Coast, which was split between rebel and government zones after a failed coup in September 2002 erupted into civil war. The world’s top cocoa producer has been rocked by violence since Thursday, when Ivorian air strikes strafed the rebel strongholds of Bouake and Korhogo in what President Laurent Gbagbo called an operation to “liberate and reunite the country.”After nine of its troops and a US civilian were killed in the last of the air raids on Saturday, France responded by destroying most of Ivory Coast’s aircraft, which inflamed anti-French sentiment in the former French colony and sent thousands of people into the streets.Mob violence left one in four Abidjan homes owned by Europeans looted and vandalized, while foreign residents told AFP of being dragged from their cars and beaten, their watches and jewelry stolen.But Ivorian parliamentary speaker Mamadou Koulibaly, who had stoked xenophobic fires at the weekend after French forces wiped out the Ivorian air force in retaliation for a air strike that killed nine French soldiers and a US civilian, said Monday that the time for belligerence had passed.”We are proceeding towards calm so as to resume economic activity,” he said after a meeting at the Hotel Ivoire with French and Ivorian military officials at which he proposed joint patrols by French and Ivorian security forces to help restore order.”We tempted catastrophe,” added armed forces chief General Mathias Doue.”We are urging everyone to stay calm and to help return life to normal as soon as possible.”French General Henri Poncet emerged from the meeting seeking to reaffirm the mission of the 4,000 French troops patrolling a ceasefire in place since May 2003.”Our objective is to reassure the expatriate community and to secure residents in the Ivorian economic capital from being robbed or injured,” he said of Operation Unicorn, which has been reinforced since Sunday by several hundred soldiers.”We have no intention of overthrowing President Gbagbo,” he said, hoping to counter rumors that resulted in a standoff with warning shots fired earlier Monday at the Hotel Ivoire between French troops and Gbagbo partisans called into the streets by national radio.- Nampa-AFPThe world’s top cocoa producer has been rocked by violence since Thursday, when Ivorian air strikes strafed the rebel strongholds of Bouake and Korhogo in what President Laurent Gbagbo called an operation to “liberate and reunite the country.”After nine of its troops and a US civilian were killed in the last of the air raids on Saturday, France responded by destroying most of Ivory Coast’s aircraft, which inflamed anti-French sentiment in the former French colony and sent thousands of people into the streets.Mob violence left one in four Abidjan homes owned by Europeans looted and vandalized, while foreign residents told AFP of being dragged from their cars and beaten, their watches and jewelry stolen.But Ivorian parliamentary speaker Mamadou Koulibaly, who had stoked xenophobic fires at the weekend after French forces wiped out the Ivorian air force in retaliation for a air strike that killed nine French soldiers and a US civilian, said Monday that the time for belligerence had passed.”We are proceeding towards calm so as to resume economic activity,” he said after a meeting at the Hotel Ivoire with French and Ivorian military officials at which he proposed joint patrols by French and Ivorian security forces to help restore order.”We tempted catastrophe,” added armed forces chief General Mathias Doue.”We are urging everyone to stay calm and to help return life to normal as soon as possible.”French General Henri Poncet emerged from the meeting seeking to reaffirm the mission of the 4,000 French troops patrolling a ceasefire in place since May 2003.”Our objective is to reassure the expatriate community and to secure residents in the Ivorian economic capital from being robbed or injured,” he said of Operation Unicorn, which has been reinforced since Sunday by several hundred soldiers.”We have no intention of overthrowing President Gbagbo,” he said, hoping to counter rumors that resulted in a standoff with warning shots fired earlier Monday at the Hotel Ivoire between French troops and Gbagbo partisans called into the streets by national radio. – Nampa-AFP

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