UPDATE 3-France asks UN council to sanction I.Coast's Gbagbo

Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:59pm GMT

* French draft would also ban heavy weapons from Abidjan

* West wants tougher action by U.N. peacekeepers (Adds U.S. comment)

By Louis Charbonneau and Patrick Worsnip

UNITED NATIONS, March 25 (Reuters) - France and Nigeria circulated a draft resolution to the U.N. Security Council on Friday that would impose sanctions on strife-torn Ivory Coast's incumbent leaders and ban heavy weapons from the Abidjan area.

French U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud told reporters the 15-nation council was expected to discuss the draft resolution in detail next week. It was not immediately clear when the text could be put to a vote.

Speaking after a closed-door council meeting on Ivory Coast, Araud said that "we are very close to a civil war" in Abidjan, where clashes are intensifying between forces loyal to incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo and those of his rival Alassane Ouattara. [ID:nLDE72O0ZX]

The United Nations and African organizations say challenger Ouattara defeated Gbagbo in presidential elections in the West African state, the world's leading cocoa producer, last November. But Gbagbo says he won and has refused to quit.

The draft resolution, obtained by Reuters, echoes previous U.N. calls for Gbagbo to step down, forbids heavy weapons, and provides for sanctions against Gbagbo and his close advisers.

An annex to the draft lists the associates as Foreign Minister Alcide Djedje, Gbagbo's wife and senior figure in the Ivorian Popular Front Simone Gbagbo, the front's chair Pascal Affi N'Guessan, and the secretary-general of Gbagbo's presidency, Desire Tagro.   Continued...

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