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UN eyes sanctions on two more Ivory Coast leaders

Written by: Staff
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UNITED NATIONS, Sep 14 (Reuters) France has warned the UN Security Council it will lose credibility if it fails to follow up on threats to crack down on people blocking the peace process in Ivory Coast, council diplomats said.

The warning was delivered by French Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sabliere during a closed-door council meeting on Tuesday, the diplomats said yesterday.

The council has approved several statements and resolutions threatening to impose travel bans and asset freezes on those hindering peace in the war-divided West African nation.

But it has acted against only three individuals -- two leaders of a youth movement fiercely loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo and a rebel commander.

France proposed moving against two other Gbagbo allies, the diplomats said. They are former Prime Minister Pascal Affi N'Guessan, leader of Gbagbo's ruling Ivorian Popular Front, and Mamadou Coulibaly, the Ivorian parliamentary speaker, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the process is meant to be confidential.

The two were put forward for their role in violent protests in July against a programme to issue identity papers as part of preparations for long-delayed elections due before the end of October under a UN-backed peace plan, diplomats said.

Elections by then have been ruled out due to internal disagreements over the disarmament of former fighters in Ivory Coast's civil war and the national identification plan.

The Security Council's 15 member-nations now have two days to object to the two names. After that, the sanctions would take effect, the diplomats said.

Ivory Coast and regional leaders will meet at UN headquarters next week to try to agree on what happens to the current government in the event the elections do not take place on time, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said.

Gbagbo's five-year term ended last October but was extended for another year in a deal approved by the Security Council to allow a year for the completion of election preparations.

There are currently about 7,600 UN peacekeepers and 4,000 French troops in Ivory Coast enforcing a shaky 2003 peace agreement ending a 2002 civil war launched by rebels hoping to oust Gbagbo from power. The war split the country into a rebel-held north and government-controlled south.

REUTERS VJ RN0522

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