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UN to end peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast

The UN Security Council has voted to lift remaining sanctions on Ivory Coast and pull out peacekeepers next year. The decision signals the West African country is on the right track, following years of instability.

About 6,000 UN peacekeepers and international police will leave Ivory Coast by next April, and in June the UN mission will officially close after 12 years in the country.

The Security Council also voted to immediately lift an arms embargo as well as travel bans and asset freezes on several individuals.

France's ambassador to the UN, Francois Delattre, said after the unanimous Thursday vote that the international mission had been "a success story."

He said the end of the UN peacekeeping mission and lifting of sanctions showed "the amazing path taken by Ivory Coast on the way to peace, reconciliation and security."

Ivory Coast descended into a spiral of violence and political instability after a failed 2002 coup. Fighting between the rebel-controlled north and government in the south left thousands dead before a ceasefire was agreed in May 2003.

The UN authorized the peacekeeping mission in 2004 to monitor the ceasefire agreement, but it broke down only 18 months after being signed. In response the Security Council imposed sanctions.

Rebels were brought into the government through a 2007 peace deal, but underlying tensions remained.

The country nearly returned to civil war following presidential elections in late 2010, when some 3,000 people were left dead in violence. But the two sides reached an agreement by April 2011 to avoid more bloodshed.

The world's top cocoa producer has since sustained relatively strong economic growth.

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Ivory Coast is world's top cashew exporter

The UN removed a diamond export ban and eased an arms embargo in 2014.

Ivory Coast's UN Ambassador Claude Bouah-Kamon thanked the international community for the peace mission.

"My country hails the untrammeled success of this mission and ... (wants) to ensure that it goes down in the history of UN peacekeeping operations as a success story to be replicated elsewhere in the world," Bouah-Kamon said.

He said the country would now focus on implementing military modernization and security reforms.

cw/gsw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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