afrol News, 15 October - Despite the large advances made in preparing the elections in Côte d'Ivoire and a more peaceful environment in the country, the UN today decided to extend its sanctions for another six months.
Declaring the situation in Côte d'Ivoire a continuing threat to international peace, the UN Security Council today unanimously extended until the end of next April the weapons, financial and travel sanctions on the country.
The 15-member body last October renewed sanctions for a full year, and said it had decided on a shorter time-span for the sanctions this time in light of the current progress in Côte d'Ivoire. The Council said it would review the measures no later than three months after the much-delayed presidential elections, now scheduled for 31 October.
A second election round is slated to be held on 28 November if there is no clear winner in the final stages of UN-backed efforts to reunite the West African country, which has been split between a government-held south and a rebel-held north since a war in 2002. Parliamentary polls are also being held.
The sanctions include an arms embargo, restrictions for certain individuals on travel and financial movements, and a ban on any state importing rough diamonds, the so-called "blood diamonds" that have fuelled conflict in the region, including in neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.
The arms embargo does not apply to non-lethal equipment intended solely to enable Ivorian security forces to use only appropriate and proportionate force while maintaining public order.
Today also marks the start of the electoral campaign for the polls in Côte d'Ivoire, and there are fears that violence may again break out. The UN peacekeeping force in Côte d'Ivoire, known as UNOCI, has already flown in hundreds of additional soldiers to reinforce its 8,650 troops already there. The mission was set up in 2004 to monitor a ceasefire and to help bring stability, including holding elections, to end the split.
The UN Security Council also made critical notes on the overall human rights situation, reported abuses, including sexual violence, against civilians, which persist in different parts of the country. It further stated concern over reports that Ivorian media outlets were inciting violence and a resumption of internal conflict.
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