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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 January 2006, 23:53 GMT
UN condemns Ivory Coast violence
Young Patriots supporters outside the French Embassy in Abidjan
Protesters were urged to return home
The UN Security Council has condemned four days of unrest in Ivory Coast, but stopped short of imposing sanctions.

The UN said those who undermine a fragile ceasefire in Ivory Coast would be called to account for their actions.

The government-held south of Ivory Coast has been wracked by violence since UN-backed mediators recommended dissolving parliament.

President Laurent Gbagbo's ruling party has announced it intends to pull out of UN-backed peace talks.

Some 2,000 youths have clashed with UN peacekeepers in the city of Abidjan, burning tyres and throwing stones.

A BBC correspondent in the rebel-controlled north of the country says that tensions are also high in that region.

Rebels have set up road blocks around their stronghold of Bouake, amid fears that Mr Gbagbo's government intends to resume military conflict.

Youth concerns

The youth wing of Mr Gbagbo's party has echoed an appeal by the president for an end to the Abidjan protests.

IVORY COAST CONFLICT
Sept 2002: Dissident soldiers fail to overthrow President Gbagbo, but rebels seize north
May 2003: Armed forces sign ceasefire with rebel groups
Nov 2004: Ivorian air force attacks rebels; French forces destroy parts of Ivorian air force after nine of their soldiers killed. Violent anti-French protests prompt thousands of Westerners to leave
Oct 2005: UN extends President Gbagbo's mandate for 12 months and postpones elections
Jan 2006: UN-backed panel recommends disbanding parliament, whose mandate has expired. Anti-UN protests break out

Charles Ble Goude, the Young Patriots' leader, called on his followers to leave the streets. He himself has been among the protesters outside the French Embassy in Abidjan, the country's main city, but said it was now time to go home.

It is not yet clear if all the demonstrators will follow his appeal.

In New York, the Security Council and Secretary General Kofi Annan warned that sanctions could be imposed against individuals obstructing the peace talks, or involved in any way in the violence.

France said it was sending extra riot police to tackle the protesters who have besieged UN bases in several cities.

The Young Patriots and other supporters of President Gbagbo have been expressing their anger at the UN and France, accusing them of interfering in Ivorian affairs.

Illegal checkpoints have been set up around Abidjan and UN peacekeepers have been attacked, responding with teargas.

Shops, schools and banks remained closed in the city centre on Thursday.

Divided country

Ivory Coast has been split in two, a government-run south and a rebel-held north, since a failed coup in 2002.

Rebel forces in the north say they still support the peace process and have accused Mr Gbagbo's party of trying to seize power.

A fragile ceasefire has been in place since 2003, maintained by nearly 7,500 UN troops.

Mr Gbagbo is leading a one-year government of national unity, and parliament is considered by his supporters as his last stronghold.

Analysts say by calling for the dissolution of parliament, international mediators intended to strengthen Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny's authority and ensure that hostile deputies did not block attempts to implement the peace process, as happened last year.

But Mr Gbagbo's FPI party has accused the international community of carrying out a "constitutional coup d'etat".




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See the protests in Ivory Coast



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