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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005, 09:52 GMT
Ivorians 'breaching' arms embargo
Su-25 (in service with the Macedonian air force)
Ivory Coast lost two Su-25 ground attack planes
Ivory Coast is trying to rebuild its air force which could breach its arms embargo, the United Nations has warned.

It was imposed to end to fighting between government forces and rebels.

UN experts have reported that foreign technicians have been rebuilding and maintaining the small fleet, but a presidential aide denied repair work.

The French forces in Ivory Coast destroyed most of the Ivorian air force after warplanes attacked a French base last November in rebel-held Bouake.

Ivory Coast has been divided between the rebel north and government-held south since a failed rebellion in September 2002, with 10,000 French and UN troops deployed to monitor a fragile ceasefire.

The Ivorian government "has sought to repair, maintain and rebuild FACI (the Ivorian air force) as a political statement that air power provides the government with a military advantage that the FN (rebels) do not have", the report to the UN Security Council says.

Meanwhile, the Security Council has delayed imposing sanctions on the country for another week to give it time to appoint a new prime minister.

A UN resolution has allowed Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo to remain in power for a year after his official term ended in October, and urged that a new prime minister be appointed.

"If the prime minister is not named in perhaps a week's time, you will hear the bell ring," Greek Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis, who chairs the UN's committee on sanctions, told Reuters news agency.


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