The U.N. Security Council imposed an immediate arms embargo on Ivory Coast’s hard-line government after its violent confrontation with France, drawing bitter accusations here Tuesday that the world was siding with Ivory Coast’s former colonial ruler.
The Security Council’s resolution Monday also said that further sanctions, including a travel ban and an asset freeze, could be imposed if the peace process with northern rebels isn’t back on track within a month.
Accusing French President Jacques Chirac of manipulating the U.N. body for France’s purposes, Ivory Coast National Assembly president Mamadou Koulibaly said the resolution “allows Chirac to hide himself behind other countries who served as cover for him.”
A spokesman for President Laurent Gbagbo refused immediate comment, saying the government was preparing a statement.
On Sunday, a senior government aide issued an ominous warning over the embargo. Other countries “should come and collect their foreigners from Ivory Coast. Because if there’s an embargo, we can’t live with them anymore,” the Ivorian official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Along with the arms embargo, which will last at least 13 months, the United Nations also banned the incitement of public hatred or violence — a reference to hate messages on Ivorian television and radio that whipped up anti-French, anti-foreigner anger last week.
Families piled into two jumbo jets Monday, bringing to more than 5,000 the number of Westerners fleeing an upsurge in violence sparked by clashes between France and its former West African colony. The flights were the last in six days of shuttles overseen by the French military, French spokesman Jacques Combarieu said.
More than 10,000 African nationals have fled to neighboring countries, the U.N. refugee agency said.
With the subsiding of last week’s anti-foreigner rampages, any other foreigners who want to leave will be able to do so on their own, Combarieu said.
At a meeting in the Nigerian capital Abuja on Sunday, African leaders backed the embargo and other sanctions.
The Ivory Coast reopened the nation’s civil war Nov. 4 with airstrikes on the rebel-held north. Two days later, Ivory Coast warplanes bombed a French peacekeeping post, killing nine French troops and an American aid worker.
France then blew up Ivory Coast’s air force on the tarmac.
Loyalists, led by the government-allied Young Patriots popular militias, responded by taking to the streets in five days of violent attacks, burning and looting French businesses and schools across the south and plunging the world’s top cocoa producer into chaos.
No deaths have been confirmed among non-Africans in the street violence, but France has said several expatriates were raped. Ivory Coast said more than 62 loyalists died when French forces fired into crowds.
In Paris, Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said it was necessary to keep French forces in Ivory Coast to prevent a Rwanda-style massacre. She also warned of a possible domino effect among other African countries if Ivory Coast splits definitively along ethnic lines.
“It is clear that the day when Ivory Coast is divided in two, it will be imitated by numerous other countries,” she told reporters.
Alliot-Marie said sending French troops in response to Gbagbo’s appeals in 2002 “avoided massacres of the type that happened in Rwanda” in 1994, when more than 500,000 people were killed.