UN chief: Belarus sent helicopters to Ivory Coast

AP News
Posted: Feb 28, 2011 12:43 AM
UN chief: Belarus sent helicopters to Ivory Coast

The U.N. chief said Sunday that Belarus has broken an international arms embargo on Ivory Coast by shipping three attack helicopters to military forces supporting the longtime ruler who refuses to cede power after losing a presidential election.

U.N. peacekeepers in Ivory Coast are providing 24-hour protection to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the Nov. 28 presidential election. He has been confined to the grounds of a heavily guarded hotel because Laurent Gbagbo refuses to give up the presidency.

On Sunday night, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's office said the U.N. 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 Ban's office said.

"This is a serious violation of the embargo against Cote d'Ivoire, which has been in place since 2004," 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, Ban said, urging the Council to convene an urgent meeting.

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 U.N. chief said he had asked the U.N. 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."