By Mike Cohen
Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Belarus’s reported delivery of three attack helicopters to the forces of Ivory Coast’s incumbent leader, Laurent Gbagbo, would violate an arms embargo that has been in place since 2004, the United Nations said.
The first delivery reportedly arrived last night and others are expected today, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
“The violation has been immediately brought to the attention of the Security Council’s committee charged with the responsibility for sanctions against Ivory Coast,” he said.
Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, has been divided between a government-controlled south and a rebel-held north since a 2002 uprising of army soldiers. The insurgents back Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the Nov. 28 election. Gbagbo, who has led the West African nation for the past decade, refuses to cede power, alleging voter fraud in parts of the north.
Ban did not provide details about the origin of the reports about the helicopter deliveries. Alexander Timoshenko, a spokesman for Belarus Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich, did not immediately answer calls today seeking comment.
Ban demanded “full compliance” with the arms embargo and warned both the supplier of the military equipment and Gbagbo that “appropriate action” would be taken if it were violated.
U.N. forces based in Ivory Coast have been instructed to monitor the situation closely and take all necessary action, within their mandate, to ensure that any delivered helicopters are not put into use, he said.
--With assistance from Paul Abelsky in Moscow. Editors: Karl Maier, Jennifer Freedman.
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