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Cablegate: Government, Rebels and Impartial Forces Dismantle

VZCZCXRO3033
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHAB #0379 1021722
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 121722Z APR 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABIDJAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2824
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS ABIDJAN 000379

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL UN IV
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT, REBELS AND IMPARTIAL FORCES DISMANTLE
BUFFER ZONE

REF: ABIDJAN 347

1. (SBU) Representatives of the Ivorian army, the New Forces
and ONUCI and Licorne peacekeepers signed an agreement on
April 11 to dismantle the zone of confidence (ZOC) starting
Monday, April 16. The drawdown of the ZOC will begin at
midnight in a concrete step to implement the Ouagadougou
Peace Accord (OPA) signed by President Gbagbo and NF
Secretary General and now Prime Minister Guillaume Soro in

SIPDIS
March. ONUCI and Licorne force commanders have professed
optimism that the elimination of the ZOC will succeed in
reunifying the country and furthering the peace process. In
a press statement today, ONUCI averred that the dismantling
of the buffer zone will not create major upheaval on the
ground. The OPA specifies that ONUCI and Licorne troops
monitoring the area will be reduced by half every two months
until their complete withdrawal by December 16, 2007. They
will be replaced by joint patrols of Ivorian army and NF
troops. President Gbagbo announced that for the first time
since 2002 he will visit former NF controlled areas in the
north before the end of the month.

2. (SBU) COMMENT: The ZOC has been crime-ridden, especially
in the western region, since its creation. Impartial forces
were unable to do anything more than turn criminals over to
the NF or the government. Given the security concerns,
residents in villages in the ZOC are likely to be nervous
about the drawdown of the impartial forces. However, in the
long run, reasserting Ivorian control may help to normalize
the area. END COMMENT
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