The Security Council unanimously adopted a French-sponsored resolution Monday to immediately ban arms exports to Ivory Coast in an effort to prevent the country from descending into anarchy.
The resolution also threatens to impose within one month travel restrictions and an asset freeze on officials or rebels who disrupt the peace process in the West African country or incite followers to engage in violence. The council's measures are to remain in force until December 2005.
The resolution's passage places the 15-nation council squarely behind France in its efforts to restore calm in the former French colony. It condemns Ivory Coast's decision to take up arms against French troops, particularly a Nov. 6 air attack on the French army base in which nine French soldiers and an American aid worker were killed.
The imposition of an arms embargo comes as Ivory Coast's president, Laurent Gbagbo, has stepped up efforts to rebuild his air force, which France destroyed in retaliation for the killing of French troops. The government has ordered three Sukhoi fighter jets and three Mi-24 helicopters, according to Reuters.
France's military reaction triggered days of protests by anti-French demonstrators and fed calls for the withdrawal of more than 4,000 French troops from Ivory Coast. More than 5,000 French and other Western residents of Ivory Coast, including nonessential U.N. staff and humanitarian relief officials, have been forced to flee the country because of fear of reprisals.
Ivory Coast's U.N. ambassador, Djessan Philippe Djangone-Bi, said he could neither confirm nor deny reports that his government is rearming. But, he said, "no head of state will condone a situation in which he is exposed and his people are exposed" to aggression.
Djangone-Bi said it was unfair that France, as a party to the conflict in Ivory Coast, has led the diplomatic push in the council for sanctions. "Usually you cannot be judge and judged," he said.
The Security Council resolution demands that both government and rebel officials observe the terms of a May 2003 cease-fire agreement. The council also issued a stern warning to Ivory Coast to "stop all radio and television broadcasting inciting hatred, intolerance and violence."
French and U.N. officials say government media outlets have been fueling anti-French sentiments in the country in recent weeks. Juan Mendez, the top U.N. adviser on the prevention of genocide, suggested Monday that Ivory Coast officials could face prosecution by the International Criminal Court if the government fails to halt such hate speech.
South African President Thabo Mbeki asked the council to delay action on the sanctions resolution Friday in order to pursue a diplomatic solution to the crisis. But the African Union called for an immediate arms embargo after Gbagbo failed to attend peace talks in Abuja, Nigeria, over the weekend and shut off electricity to the country's rebel-controlled northern territory.
Fred Eckhard, the United Nations' chief spokesman, said the situation in Ivory Coast remained "tense" as more than 10,000 refugees have fled the country for eastern Liberia.