UNITED NATIONS – The U.N. Security Council (search) demanded an immediate halt to all military action in Ivory Coast and confirmed Saturday that U.N. peacekeepers and French forces were authorized to use "all necessary means" to carry out their mandate.
In an emergency meeting, the council also authorized U.N. and French troops patrolling a zone dividing the rebel-held north from the government-controlled south "to prevent any hostile action" and condemned any attempt to send forces through the zone.
The council said it "intends to examine rapidly further actions, including individual measures, to be taken."
France's U.N. Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere said he will draft a resolution to impose an arms embargo on Ivory Coast (search). Paris also will seek to impose U.N. sanctions against those blocking the peace process, violating human rights and preventing the disarmament of fighters, he said.
"The Security Council is impatient," he said. "What is happening now is very serious in Ivory Coast and I hope that the council in the coming days will be able to adopt a resolution."
Council resolutions are legally binding.
U.S. Ambassador John Danforth (search), the council president, said the French resolution will be considered within days. He said the council "fully supports France" and the U.N. force "in actions taken to protect the cease-fire."
Council members agreed on the statement after a closed-door briefing on the latest developments in Ivory Coast, including an attack on a French base that killed nine French soldiers and an American civilian, and wounded more than 20 French soldiers.
The council condemned the attack against French forces in Bouake, the largest rebel-held city in the north, and the northern airstrikes by the Ivory Coast military as violations of the May 3, 2003, cease-fire.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who attended the council meeting, said afterward he spoke to Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo (search) twice Saturday and told him "we need to really end this hostility — because he took this initiative" to launch the attacks.
"But he did tell me that he was going to end it, so we'll wait and see," Annan said.
"What is important is that the hostilities stop immediately. It is important that the president calms the population so that they stop violent demonstrations in the capital in Abidjan, where there are lots of people, not only Ivorian but lots of foreigners, and we don't want to see the situation aggravated."
Annan said he also spoke to French President Jacques Chirac and the leaders of Nigeria and Ghana "to find means to calm the situation."
Annan helped broker July talks in which government and rebel leaders agreed to resurrect a transitional government.
De La Sabliere stressed the importance of resuming a dialogue and getting the parties to implement the commitments they have made to restore peace.
"In the council, we believe that there is no military solution in Ivory Coast, only a political solution," he said.
Government warplanes started bombing Bouake early Thursday. Col. Philippe Mangou, a government military chief for operations, told The Associated Press in Ivory Coast that the government planned to reunify the country at last.
Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, has been split into a rebel-held north and government-controlled south since a September 2002 coup attempt launched the country into civil war. The 2003 peace deal was forged under pressure from former colonial ruler France and others.