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Partial rejection of UN peace plan

President Laurent Gbagbo said on Thursday that he would not fully apply a new United Nations Security Council resolution outlining a plan for peace that was adopted unanimously a day earlier.

Gbagbo said in a speech on state television that "attacks still in the text of the resolution and which constitute violations of the constitution will not be applied". He did not elaborate.

The Security Council on Wednesday approved a resolution to extend the transitional government with Gbagbo as president for another, final year, with a strengthened mandate for Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny.

Resolution 1721 endorses recommendations of the African Union (AU) to give Banny control of the security forces and "all the necessary powers, and all necessary financial, material and human means" to implement the peace plan.

The vote came a day later than expected because of disagreement over a draft circulated by former colonial power France. Diplomats said four countries - China, Russia, the United States and Tanzania - thought the draft impinged on the sovereignty of Cote d'Ivoire.

The amended resolution does not allow Banny to appoint civilian or military officials, as previously proposed by France. And it has dropped an article saying explicitly that decisions made by the Security Cuncil prevail over the Ivorian constitution.

The final text states that full implementation of the resolution and the peace process led by Banny "requires full compliance by all Ivorian parties and that no legal provisions should be invoked by them to obstruct the process".

Gbagbo welcomed the amendments, saying the member states of the Security Council had “rejected any possibility of subordinating the constitution of a state to a decision of an international organisation".

But he warned that he would soon have a plan of his own, saying outsiders were incapable of bringing peace to the war-divided country.

"We have to gather together and use our imagination to find peace by ourselves and for our country … Within days, I will speak to you again to outline a new framework for resolving the crisis," said Gbagbo.

Appealing for calm, he said he had signed a decree to allow the army to assist the police and gendarmerie to maintain peace.

The UN resolution gives Banny sweeping powers, including the right to "take all necessary decisions, in the ministerial council or the government council, by ordinances or decrees".

The president of Cote d'Ivoire chairs the ministerial council, but does not participate in meetings of the government council.

Like last year's resolution, Banny is to organise disarmament, identification of voters, restoring state authority throughout the country, preparations for presidential and legislative elections, and restructuring of the army. Banny was appointed in December last year by African mediators and is considered a neutral figure.

The UN Security council stepped in when it became clear that elections scheduled for October last year could not be held. But the subsequent UN-backed peace plan failed to reunite the country and the elections have been postponed again. Mediators and UN officials have blamed a lack of political goodwill by all Ivorian leaders for the stalemate.

Furthermore, the Security Council has asked the AU and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to examine "the principles of civilian control over the army and of personal responsibility for acts of impunity and violations of human rights".

Tension was high in the main city Abidjan on Thursday as many residents wondered what to make of Gbagbo's reaction to the UN resolution. Ggagbo did not mention Banny in his speech and analysts say he could try to sideline the prime minister completely.

"I don't think we need to discuss the resolution," said Cecile Amessan, a secretary. "The president says we have to find a solution ourselves. In any case, there will be problems on a state level. You can't have two captains on one ship."

Cote d'Ivoire has been divided between a government-controlled south and a rebel-held north since fighting broke out after a failed coup in September 2002. Nearly 11,000 UN and French peacekeepers are deployed in the country, many of them patrolling a bufferzone that separates the two sides.


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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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