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UN: Ivory Coast arms, diamond embargoes violated

UN: Ivory Coast arms, diamond embargoes violated

The government and former rebels in Ivory Coast have repeatedly violated a U.N. arms embargo _ and a ban on diamond exports is being flouted with help from many countries, according to a report by U.N. exports.
The West African nation was split into a rebel-controlled north and government-controlled south after an attempted coup sparked civil war in 2002. A peace deal in March 2007 brought key rebel leaders into the administration and offered the best hope yet of a single government after years of foundering accords and disarmament plans _ but deep divisions remain.
In the report to the U.N. Security Council circulated Tuesday, the experts recommended that Burkina Faso investigate the transfer of arms, ammunition and other military equipment across the border to the rebel-controlled north "without delay." They said the systematic transfer of weapons may be linked to the smuggling of cocoa.
Ivory Coast is the world's largest cocoa producer and the government controls the largest share of cocoa production, in the south.
The experts noted suspicious cases linking cocoa revenue to the government's purchase of military material.
The U.N. Security Council imposed an arms embargo and other sanctions in 2004 and an embargo on buying rough diamonds in 2005. It is expected to renew the sanctions on Thursday.
Long-delayed presidential elections have been scheduled for Nov. 29, but election officials have said another delay is likely because of problems preparing for the vote.
The experts said the years of north-south polarization "have introduced new political and economic tensions in the crisis."
While the prospects of renewed north-south conflict "have diminished," the experts said the north is being run by 10 rebel commanders who use their military positions to compete for control over natural resources and commerce, sometimes violently.
"Should the political situation in the country deteriorate, and the economic interests of some parties be threatened by such events, the group cannot exclude a situation in which armed violence may escalate rapidly, particularly in the north," the report said.
"Despite the arms embargo," it said, "northern and southern Ivorian parties are rearming or re-equipping with related material."
The experts cited seven cases where the government and rebels acquired weapons in violation of the U.N. ban. They also investigated the trade in rough diamonds, saying illegal exports were being fueled by intensified mining and new technologies.
The experts said their research confirms "that Malians have important links to the trade in Ivorian rough diamonds." They said they suspect, but haven't confirmed, that diamonds are also exported to international diamond centers through Burkina Faso.
The experts recommended that the Israeli government investigate the possible involvement of Israeli nationals and companies in the illegal export of Ivorian rough diamonds, and they called on Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates to regulate and monitor diamond polishing activities to deter the illegal import and processing of stones from Ivory Coast.
The experts also called on Guinea to ensure that Ivorian diamonds don't infiltrate their own production, and they urged Liberia to investigate Liberian companies suspected of violating the embargo.


Updated : 2021-04-15 01:22 GMT+08:00