Belarus denies meddling over Libya, Ivory Coast

Autocratic Belarus on Monday denied delivering helicopters to Ivory Coast in violation of the embargo by the UN Security Council or receiving the jet of Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi in Minsk.

"Belarus has never violated Security Council sanctions," Belarus foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh told AFP. "There is an efficient system to control weapons exports in Belarus," he said.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called an urgent meeting earlier Monday following reports that Belarus was delivering three helicopters to forces led by Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent Ivory Coast president who has refused to step down after disputed elections, Ban's spokesman said.

Savinykh also denied reports on Sunday which alleged that Kadhafi's jet had flown to Belarus capital Minsk and then back to Tripoli, calling them part of a smear campaign against Belarus.

"First they make up Belarussian contract soldiers in Libya, then the landing of a plane with Libyan gold and diamonds... these statements do not reflect the reality," he said, calling it an "information attack" on Belarus.

Reports quoted on Belarussian opposition news site Charter 97 said that a Libyan plane possibly carrying Kadhafi relatives and valuables may have touched down in Minsk on Friday.

Western media have also spoken of "white mercenaries" allegedly from Belarus fighting off protestors against Kadhafi's regime.

Libya is an ally of Belarus and Kadhafi last came for an official visit to Minsk in 2008, pitching his Bedouin tent at the government residence where he met with President Alexander Lukashenko.

The unpredictable Lukashenko has a track record of strong friendships with anti-Western world leaders like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez or Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

He has also given sanctuary to disgraced Kyrgyz ex-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, ousted in an uprising last year amid accusations of corruption.

Lukashenko has sparked international outrage by cracking down hard on the opposition after protests over his landslide election victory in December.

Kadhafi was facing increasing international pressure to step down and he and his inner circle are facing a travel ban and asset freeze.

Saturday, the UN Security Council voted unanimously to impose the sanctions, including an arms embargo, and to refer Libya to the International Criminal Court over bloodshed in Kadhafi's bid to crush an uprising.

Ivory Coast has been gripped by increasing unrest since a presidential poll on November 28, which much of the international community acknowledges was won by opposition leader Alassane Ouattara.


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