New York - The UN Security Council extended the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast by one year on Thursday, but personnel will be reduced from 12 000 to some 8 800.

The mission's top priority is to protect the civilian population and support the government in its efforts to democratize its institutions and political parties. The mission is backed by a police force of 1 555 officers.

In one of its requests, the council asked the government of President Alassane Ouattara to urgently apply “concrete measures to promote justice and reconciliation at all levels and on all sides ... with the aim of addressing the underlying causes of Ivory Coast's crises.”

Ouattara's predecessor Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power after he lost an election in November 2010, prompting a brief civil war in which some 3 000 people were killed. - Sapa-dpa