UN cuts back I. Coast force

The UN Security Council on Tuesday cut back the size of the UN peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast as it praised the government's efforts to bring stability there.

The council voted in a resolution extending the UN mission in Ivory Coast to reduce its maximum size from 10,400 troops to 7,137.

Another reduction to about 5,400 is planned for 2015, according to the resolution.

The UN force, UNOCI, played a key role in helping President Alassane Ouattara take power after his predecessor Laurent Gbagbo refused to acknowledge defeat in the 2010 election.

The months-long showdown led to strife in which about 3,000 people died.

The council praised Ouattara's efforts to "stabilize the security situation and accelerate economic recovery" in the West African country, which is the world's top cocoa producer.

But it noted "with concern" the slow pace of efforts to disarm an estimated 65,000 militia fighters. The council also highlighted lingering tensions along Ivory Coast's border with Liberia.

According to UN experts, Gbagbo followers have used Liberian mercenaries to stage sporadic attacks in the west of the country.