གཟའ་ཉི་མ། ༢༠༢༤/༠༥/༡༩

Annan Sees No Military Solution In Ivory Coast  - 2004-11-25

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says peace in divided Ivory Coast cannot be accomplished militarily. His comment late Wednesday came as foreign ministers at a meeting of French-speaking nations in Burkina Faso condemned the Ivorian military for resuming hostilities earlier this month.

Speaking in French at a reception in Ouagadougou where he received Burkina Faso's highest honors for his peace efforts, Secretary-General Annan appealed for negotiations to take precedence in Ivory Coast.

He says Ivorians must use dialogue to work together and save their country, instead of attacking each other.

He also called for more efforts to apply successive peace deals, the last of which was agreed in a meeting he chaired in Accra last July.

Meanwhile, foreign ministers drew up a resolution concerning the Ivory Coast crisis ahead of a two-day summit of about 30 French-speaking heads of state starting Friday. The draft text, which will be submitted to the heads of state, condemns the Ivory Coast military for violating an 18-month cease-fire by bombing rebel positions.

It also backs an arms embargo against Ivory Coast which was passed by the United Nations following those attacks.

Ivory Coast was represented at that meeting by its ambassador to Burkina Faso. He had no comment.

But the head of the government in Canada's French-speaking province, Quebec, Premier Jean Charest, says the group known as the International Organization of Francophonie is becoming increasingly political.

He says it's important the group, now in its 10th year, weighs in on helping to end conflicts in French-speaking areas such as Ivory Coast and Haiti, rather than focusing just on culture and development.

The group includes France's former colonies as well as other countries, including Switzerland.

Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo will not be attending. In a recent interview broadcast on state television, he called on French forces in Ivory Coast to aggressively disarm rebels.

Mr. Gbagbo says he resumed hostilities earlier this month because rebels were refusing to disarm by an agreed date of October 15. During government air raids, a French military position in the rebel-held north was hit, resulting in the deaths of nine French soldiers.

Several thousand French troops are helping more than six-thousand U.N. peacekeepers enforce the cease-fire.

France responded by destroying all Ivorian military aircraft and calling for the arms embargo. This prompted mass rioting in southern Ivory Coast and the evacuation of thousands of French and other foreign nationals.

Mr. Gbagbo says he is also eagerly awaiting a return mediation visit by South African President Thabo Mbeki next week. Northern-based rebels, who have also met with Mr. Mbeki, say Mr. Gbagbo is not a reliable negotiating partner, accusing him of blocking the power-sharing peace deals.