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Last Updated: Friday, 17 February 2006, 09:06 GMT
UN group considers return to west
Jan Egeland
Mr Egeland is visiting areas abandoned by UN troops last month
A UN-backed international working group is to meet in Ivory Coast to discuss progress towards ending civil war.

At their last meeting they recommended the country's National Assembly be dissolved which led to four days of violent demonstrations against the UN.

UN envoy Jan Egeland has visited Guiglo, where UN offices were burned, and said NGOs and the UN would return only if their safety was guaranteed.

Mr Egeland also called for the prosecution of those behind the riots.

The supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo's government which were responsible were nothing more than "criminal gangs", he said, and he demanded an end to the "climate of impunity" if troops were to return.

"Our hope is to return here," Mr Egeland said while visiting Guiglo, "but we can't return before we have minimum guarantees for our security".

Reaction

The BBC's James Copnall in Abidjan said that the working group will hope that any declarations it makes after Friday's meetings will produce a more muted reaction this time around.
Demonstrators protest outside a UN base in Abidjan on 16 January 2006
A number of UN buildings were damaged in January protests
In January, after their last meeting supporters of President Gbagbo took to the streets.

Four days of protests caused at least five deaths and millions of pounds of damage to United Nations property.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has sent Mr Gbagbo a bill for $3.6m to pay for the damage to UN property and equipment.




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