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Côte D'ivoire Rebels Preparing For LongTerm Crisis

Côte D'ivoire Rebels Preparing For Long-Term Crisis, UN Envoy Tells Security Council

With the rebels in northern Côte d'Ivoire having given five newly designated areas to new warlords and announced training facilities and a bank, they are preparing for a long-term crisis, if not planning immediately to secede, the chief of the United Nations mission in the West African nation told the Security Council today.

The difficulties encountered by the African Union's (AU) mediator, South African President Thabo Mbeki, in trying to implement the peace agreements raised questions about the likelihood that general and presidential elections scheduled for later this year could take place, said the acting chief of the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), Alan Doss.

The anti-Government Forces Nouvelles continued to link their acceptance of a demobilization and disarmament scheme to advances in the political programme, he said in introducing to the Council Secretary-General Kofi Annan's latest report, released last week.

Among several recommendations, Mr. Annan was asking for the mandate of UNOCI to be extended until April of next year.

Mr. Doss pointed out that following the deployment of mixed patrols of UNOCI civilian police and national police, the level of extortions of the civilian population by members of the security force in Abidjan, the largest city, had noticeably dropped.

He noted, however, that both the Government and rebels had ignored a Council resolution calling on all parties to turn over lists of their military equipment to the UN mission and had been formally reminded to do so.

Meanwhile, UNOCI's troop strength was of serious concern, since it could not respond effectively "should two or more major incidents take place at the same time," Mr. Doss said.

He asked the Council to consider favourably Mr. Annan's call for the emergency deployment of an additional 1,226 troops in the Government-controlled south, especially in Abidjan.

The AU's Mediation Mission representative, South African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad, said Côte d'Ivoire had to address a range of issues, including nationality, political rights, landholding and co-existence in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious society.

Both the AU and the UN had to resist the temptation to try to implement short-term solutions that disguised the real problems, he said.

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