UN probes Zim arms transfers to I Coast

2011-03-04 12:41

Special Report

Grace Mugabe hands out raincoats during 'national-disaster' drought

Zimbabwe is in the grip of devastating drought, but that hasn't stopped Grace Mugabe from donating hundreds of raincoats to villagers, it was reported from a rally in northern Zimbabwe on Friday.

New York - The United Nations is investigating suspected arms transfers from Zimbabwe to Ivory Coast's incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo in violation of the UN sanctions, according to a report obtained by Reuters.

The report emerged after a week of gun battles between forces loyal to Gbagbo and his rival Alassane Ouattara, almost universally recognised as winner of a November 28 poll, that risk pushing the top cocoa grower back to full-blown civil war.

Diplomats on the UN Security Council said the possible transfer of weapons to Gbagbo was a serious matter. They said his forces could use them against UN peacekeepers - UNOCI, who recognise Ouattara as Ivory Coast's president - or Ivorian civilians who support Ouattara.

UNOCI's confidential "Embargo monitoring report January 2011", obtained by Reuters on Thursday, said the mission was gathering more information on "the arrival of light weapons cargoes from Zimbabwe". The UN officials told Reuters arms from Zimbabwe would have been intended for Gbagbo and not Ouattara.

In January, Gbagbo sent a special envoy to Harare to meet with and enlist the support of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, who like Gbagbo has been accused by his opponents of election fraud and is under US and European Union sanctions.

Ivory Coast has been under an arms embargo since the last bout of serious violence in 2004, when pro-Gbagbo forces bombed French peacekeepers in the rebel-held north. Analysts say both sides have repeatedly violated the embargo.

The report also said UNOCI was monitoring a shipment of 10 large wooden boxes that "may contain trucks or tanks".

"This cargo has been at Abidjan airport for six months," the UNOCI report said. "Aerial pictures confirmed the presence of these boxes, which are under 24/7 hours military surveillance."


The report spoke of a "suspected cargo delivery from Angola", involving two Soviet-manufactured Sukhoi-27 fighter jets and a Soviet-made MIG-25 interceptor and reconnaissance bomber, spotted at San Pedro airport in Cape Verde, and a Russian cargo plane seen at Abidjan in January.

The Russian aircraft "has a considerable cargo capacity to carry heavy military equipment or a company of soldiers," the report said.

The report did not explicitly say whether the fighter jets were linked to Gbagbo's government. But it said UNOCI had received information that the "same (Russian cargo) aircraft had supplied equipment to the Ivorian government in 2005."

An official at Zimbabwe's mission expressed surprise about the allegation and declined to comment. Diplomats at Angola's UN mission were not immediately available for a reaction.

Gbagbo has ordered UNOCI out of the country, a demand the mission has ignored. The UN troops have been protecting Ouattara, who is holed up in an Abidjan hotel along with his advisers.

The UNOCI report is not the first of a possible transfer of military aircraft to Gbagbo. The UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy apologised to Belarus for a UN statement on Monday alleging that an initial shipment of attack helicopters had arrived in Ivory Coast from Belarus.

Diplomats said the statement on the helicopter sale issued by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's press office was based on credible US intelligence. Ouattara's UN envoy Youssoufou Bamba told reporters that the only incorrect part of the statement was that a first shipment had arrived.

"It's true that he (Gbagbo) wanted these three helicopters to be smuggled into Cote d'Ivoire and be assembled," he said. "This is something we have from credible sources of intelligence."

Read more on:    un  |  alassane ouattara  |  laurent gbagbo  |  zimbabwe  |  ivory coast

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.


24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Mercury is just about to move into your sign, so get the ground work done today so that you can take your innovative ideas to the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.