RAPAPORT… The United Nations (UN) Security Council extended the sanctions that have long been imposed upon Côte d’Ivoire another year and warned that the divided nation continues to pose a threat to the region’s international peace and security. The 15-member Council voted unanimously to ban rough diamond exports and to maintain an arms embargo and pledged to review these measures again no later than three months after a free, fair and transparent presidential election is held. The scheduled election date has been pushed back numerous times since 2005 and is currently planned for November 29.
In a resolution written today, the Council called upon the UN peacekeeping operation in Côte d’Ivoire and the French forces that support it to fully uphold the arms embargo on the country. Independent military zone commanders of the Force Nouvelles still control and exploit natural resources in the country’s north, providing both the motive and the means to sustain territorial control in northern Côte d’Ivoire, the report said.
Earlier this week, a group of UN experts reported seven separate cases in which the government and the Forces Nouvelles had acquired arms and related material in breach of the sanctions. It was particularly concerned with the systematic transfer of weapons and ammunition from neighboring Burkina Faso to the Forces Nouvelles-controlled north of the country, which may be linked to cocoa smuggling. The group also found an absence of effective border controls, which allows the rough diamond trade to continue from Côte d’Ivoire and to extend almost seamlessly into Burkina Faso and Mali. There was additional concern that rough diamonds were being illegally exported through Guinea and Liberia.