Belarus accused of breaking arms embargo to Ivory Coast

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has accused Belarus of selling attack helicopters to forces supporting the self-proclaimed president of Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, who is clinging to power after disputed elections.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on the Security Council to convene an urgent meeting to discuss the ongoing situation in Ivory Coast, after reports emerged that Belarus had broken an arms embargo to the conflict zone.

Ban's spokesman said Monday that there had been reports that Belarus illegally sold three attack helicopters to forces loyal to outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo, who has so far refused to step down following November's presidential elections. One delivery was said to have arrived on Sunday evening, with two more scheduled for Monday.

"This is in serious violation of the embargo against Ivory Coast, which has been in place since 2004," Ban's spokesman said.

"The secretary-general demands full compliance with the arms embargo and warns both the supplier of this military equipment and Mr. Gbagbo that appropriate action will be taken in response to the violation."

Ivory Coast edging closer to civil war: Ban

Since the disputed election, Ivory Coast has been gripped by unrest, with backers of rival claimants Gbagbo and opposition leader Alassane Ouattara regularly clashing in the streets. Much of the international community recognizes Ouattara as the winner of the presidential election.

Last week Ban warned that Ivory Coast was edging ever nearer to civil war.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, often referred to as Europe's last dictator, is himself accused by the international community of rigging a presidential election last year. He's currently serving his fourth term and has been in power since 1994.

Author: Holly Fox (AFP, dapd)

Editor: Martin Kuebler


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