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Last Updated: Friday, 20 January 2006, 09:51 GMT
Ivorians lift 'siege' on UN base
Young Patriots supporters outside the French Embassy in Abidjan
Protesters were urged to return home and 'clean the streets'
The main Ivory Coast city, Abidjan, has returned to normal after four days of violent anti-UN protests.

Roadblocks have been removed, buses and taxis have returned to the streets and there are no longer hundreds of youths massed outside the main UN base.

The protests ended after appeals by close allies of President Laurent Gbagbo and a threat of sanctions by the UN Security Council.

Pro-Gbagbo groups were angry at a call by UN mediators to dissolve parliament.

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

Rebel tensions

A Liberian refugee who has spent 14 years in Abidjan told the BBC News website that his wife was able to go to the market to buy food for the first time since Monday.

"The situation is quiet," said Sam Waylee. "We hope that it continues."

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

On Thursday night, pro-Gbagbo youth leader Charles Ble Goude called on his followers to go home and "clean the streets".

He has been among the protesters outside the French Embassy in Abidjan but said it was now time to end the protests.

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.

In New York, the UN 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.

Mr Ble Goude's Young Patriot group and other supporters of Mr Gbagbo have accused the UN and France of interfering in Ivorian affairs. Mr Gbagbo has a large majority in parliament.

Divided country

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

Last month, Charles Konan Banny was appointed prime minister of a transitional government, tasked with organising elections and taking some powers from Mr Gbagbo.

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, backed up by some 4,000 troops from former colonial power France.

Analysts say by calling for the dissolution of parliament, international mediators intended to strengthen Mr 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".

See the protests in Ivory Coast


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