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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 November, 2004, 00:46 GMT
Gbagbo vows not to 'hinder' peace
Ivory Coast's President Laurent Gbagbo
Gbagbo pledged to abide by the UN sanctions
Ivory Coast's President Laurent Gbagbo has said he will not be an obstacle to peace efforts in his divided country.

Mr Gbagbo's TV statement - read by his spokesman - came a day after the UN Security Council imposed an immediate arms embargo on Ivory Coast.

But the statement said the ban should be applied with "the same rigour" to the rebels as to the government.

Civil war in Ivory Coast reignited 10 days ago, when the Ivorian air force broke a truce by attacking the rebels.

More than 10,000 people have fled from the country to neighbouring Liberia in the ensuing violence, the UN refugee agency says.

Gbagbo's call

"The president takes note of the UN decision and assures the United Nations... that he will do nothing to hinder the peace process," Mr Gbagbo's spokesman Desire Tagro said in the statement.

29 Sept: Parliament fails to meet deadline for political reforms
15 Oct: Rebels ignore deadline for disarmament
28 Oct: Rebels withdraw from unity government
4 Nov: Government aircraft begin air strikes on rebel-held territory
6 Nov: Air strike kills nine French soldiers; France destroys Ivorian planes
7 Nov: Gbagbo supporters demonstrate against the French in Abidjan; UN condemns Ivorian attacks
8,9 Nov: Anti-French rioting
10 Nov: French begin evacuating civilians
15 Nov: UN sanctions imposed

The spokesman added that the president "invites the UN to apply this resolution with the same rigour to the rebels and immediately to begin the disarmament process" as agreed in last year's peace deal.

The statement also called on people to remain calm and believe in the future of the country.

On Monday, the 15-nation UN Security Council voted unanimously for the French-drafted resolution to impose an immediate arms embargo on Ivory Coast.

In a month's time, further sanctions will be considered, including financial sanctions against individuals guilty of human rights abuses.

The former rebels - who still control the north of Ivory Coast - earlier cautiously welcomed the embargo.

However, the rebels - now known as the New Forces - expressed their concern at the difficulties in enforcing the measures.

TV call

Relations between Ivory Coast and France plummeted after nine French peacekeepers died in a government bombing raid, and France retaliated by destroying the small Ivorian air force.

French citizens wait to depart to France at Abidjan airport
Thousands of frightened foreigners have left the Ivory Coast

President Gbagbo said earlier that the presence of French peacekeeping troops in Ivory Coast reminded him of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

French Defence Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said Mr Gbagbo must stop anti-white propaganda and violence against foreign nationals.

On Tuesday, a leader of a controversial pro-government militant youth group known as the Young Patriots called for an end to attacks on foreigners.

Charles Ble Goude, whose movement has been accused of anti-white violence, made the call in a televised address.

France has 4,000 troops in its former colony, backing a 6,000-strong UN force separating the north from the government-controlled south.

How sanctions could force the warring sides to talk


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