Security Council delays Ivory Coast sanctions vote
The U.N. Security Council put off until Monday a vote on imposing an arms embargo and other sanctions on Ivory Coast, where anti-French riots have inflamed a dispute between France and its former colony.
Council members on Wednesday agreed to the delay to let South African President Thabo Mbeki seek a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Ivory Coast, U.S. Ambassador John Danforth, the council president for November, told reporters.
France, the former colonial power in Ivory Coast, has pressed for sanctions after accusing the government of killing nine French peacekeepers and an American civilian during a bombing raid last Saturday on the rebel-held city of Bouake.
Anti-French riots in the wake of the incidents have forced hundreds of French citizens to flee.
"The unanimous view of the Security Council is that this is an urgent matter and the vote will take place on Monday," Danforth said.
But Ivory Coast Ambassador Philippe Djangone-Bi said he hoped a Security Council resolution on sanctions could be averted, and Dumisani Kumalo, South Africa's U.N. ambassador, said he hoped Mbeki would "resolve the conflict."
"Sanctions only harden positions," Kumalo said.
The text before the 15-nation council, drafted by France, would impose U.N. sanctions on the Ivory Coast, effective Dec. 10, unless the government and rebels in the country's Muslim-dominated north met their commitments under a 2003 peace deal.
Council members had given a green light to a late-afternoon vote after signing off on last-minute changes, which would put off the deadline until Dec. 10 and allow the council to call off the sanctions if the government and the rebels had fully implemented their commitments.
As initially drafted, the resolution would have imposed the sanctions immediately. A later change set a Dec. 1 deadline for them to take effect.
In addition to the arms embargo, the draft text calls for a travel ban and a freeze on "funds and other financial assets" to be imposed against unspecified individuals who would be identified later by a Security Council committee.
Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and top rebel leaders would likely be among those on the sanctions list, diplomats said.
The measure would also demand that Ivorian authorities stop all hate messages on national radio and television broadcasts.
Such messages -- which recalled the virulent hate broadcasts during Rwanda's 1994 genocide in which 800,000 people were massacred in 100 days of bloodletting -- have continued despite repeated U.N. demands that they be stopped, U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said.