The Security Council today extended the sanctions imposed on Côte d’Ivoire, warning that the situation in the divided West African nation continues to pose a threat to international peace and security for the region.
In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member Council voted to maintain for another year an arms embargo, restrictions for certain individuals on travel and financial movements, and the ban on any State importing rough diamonds from Côte d’Ivoire.
The Council pledged to review these measures no later than three months after the holding of open, free, fair and transparent presidential elections, which were originally scheduled as far back as 2005 but are now slated for the end of next month.
In addition, the Council’s resolution called on the UN peacekeeping operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), and the French force that supports it, to fully uphold the enforcement of the arms embargo on the country, which has been split for more than seven years between the Government-controlled south and the rebel Forces Nouvelles-held north.
Earlier this week, the Group of Experts set up in 2005 to monitor the sanctions told the Council in a report that the northern part of the country bears more resemblance to a warlord economy than to a functioning government administration.
Largely independent military ‘zone commanders’ of the Force Nouvelles control and exploit natural resources, providing both motive and means to sustain territorial control in northern Côte d’Ivoire, the report said.
Despite the arms embargo, northern and southern Ivorian parties are rearming or re-equipping with related materiel, the experts’ report said.
The Group identified seven separate cases in which the Government and the Forces Nouvelles acquired arms and related materiel in breach of the sanctions regime. It was particularly concerned by the systematic transfer of weapons and ammunition from neighbouring Burkina Faso to the Forces Nouvelles-controlled north of the country, which may be linked to cocoa smuggling.
On diamonds, the Group noted that the absence of effective border controls allows the rough diamond trade in Côte d’Ivoire to extend, almost seamlessly, into Burkina Faso and Mali. There is also concern that Ivorian diamonds may be illegally exported through Guinea and Liberia.
In addition, the experts voiced concern that two of the three individuals subject to assets freezes and travel bans continue to access and accrue revenues despite the sanctions imposed on them.
The Security Council also decided to extend the mandate of the Group of Experts until 31 October 2010, requesting the Secretary-General to take the necessary administrative measures.