The UN chief said that Belarus has broken an international arms embargo on Ivory Coast by shipping three attack helicopters to military forces supporting the long-time ruler who refuses to cede power after losing a presidential election.
UN peacekeepers in Ivory Coast are providing 24-hour protection to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognised winner of the November 28 presidential election.
He has been confined to the grounds of a heavily guarded hotel because Laurent Gbagbo refuses to give up the presidency.
Yesterday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s office said the UN chief “has learned with deep concern that three attack helicopters and related materiel from Belarus are reportedly being delivered at Yamoussoukro for Mr Gbagbo’s forces”.
“The first delivery arrived reportedly on a flight which landed this evening and additional flights are scheduled for tomorrow,” a statement from Mr Ban’s office said.
“This is a serious violation of the embargo against Cote d’Ivoire, which has been in place since 2004,” Mr Ban’s statement said.
“The violation has been immediately brought to the attention of the Security Council’s Committee charged with the responsibility for sanctions” against Ivory Coast, Mr Ban said, urging the Council to convene an urgent meeting.
Mr Ban said he “demands full compliance with the arms embargo and warns both the supplier of this military equipment and Mr Gbagbo that appropriate action will be taken in response to the violation.”
The UN chief said he had asked the UN peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast “to monitor the situation closely and to take all necessary action, within its mandate, to ensure that the delivered equipment is not prepared for use”.