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Wednesday, 5 February, 2003, 00:43 GMT
UN backs Ivory Coast peacekeepers
West African peacekeepers in Abidjan
Ecowas is expected to deploy more troops
French and West African troops in Ivory Coast have won a mandate from the United Nations Security Council to use force in peacekeeping operations there.

The Security Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to back the troops' deployment with a review of the situation in six months' time.

France has 2,500 troops in Ivory Coast
Ecowas has 200 out of a planned deployment of 1,500
Rebels in the divided West African state have reportedly launched the first attacks since signing a ceasefire with the Ivorian Government in France on 24 January.

A rebel leader told the BBC that they would not give up the defence and interior ministry posts in a new power-sharing government which were reportedly promised them in France.

The UN called for the full and immediate implementation of the peace agreement.

Protective role

In New York, the Security Council passed resolution 1464 giving "full support" to troops of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) and France currently serving in Ivory Coast.

The troops were authorised to take any necessary steps to ensure their own security and freedom of movement and "the protection of civilians threatened with imminent violence".

The Council said it was acting under Chapter Seven of the UN Charter which authorises the use of military force where other means of enforcing resolutions prove inadequate.

The Security Council... endorses the agreement signed by the Ivorian political forces

About 2,500 French troops are serving in Ivory Coast, primarily to protect the ex-colonial power's expatriate community, while 200 Senegalese troops represent Ecowas so far.

Mark Doyle, the BBC's world affairs correspondent, says the UN resolution may help protect civilians but it will do little to resolve the bitter civil conflict in Ivory Coast.

'Rebel offensive'

The Ivorian army said on Tuesday that rebels had launched attacks against government positions in the west of the country but French soldiers monitoring the peace deal have not reported any breaking of the truce.

Ivorian army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jules Yao Yao said government positions had been attacked 45 kilometres (30 miles) west of Daloa, a coffee and cocoa growing region.

MPCI rebel
MPCI rebels say will not renegotiate the French accord
He said troops fought with rebels into the night before the attack was eventually repelled.

The spokesman said a second attack was imminent because a large convoy of rebels had apparently crossed a ceasefire line and was heading into government-held territory.

"If the French do not intervene, we will destroy the rebel movement ourselves," he said.

The BBC's Tom McKinley in Abidjan says it is not clear which rebel group might be responsible for renewed fighting.

The largest, the Ivory Coast Patriotic Movement (MPCI), has denied any involvement.

The western rebel groups, the Ivorian Popular Movement of the Great West (MPIGO) and the Movement for Justice and Peace (MJP), have not yet commented.

No new negotiations

Guillaume Soro, head of the MPCI, told the BBC that the rebels would not renegotiate the French peace accord.

Guillaume Soro
Soro has warned President Gbagbo to implement the deal
Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, he said, had agreed to the deal in Paris and now it was time to implement it.

But President Gbagbo has hinted that he may now reject the deal.

Last week, under mounting pressure from thousands of protestors he referred to it as a list of propositions.

The Ivorian army and the country's five main political parties oppose the power-sharing arrangement.

Parliament is still discussing the issue but is also expected to say it is unworkable.

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05 Feb 03 | Africa
04 Feb 03 | Africa
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