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Côte D’ivoire: Sec Council Plans To Expand Mission

Côte D’ivoire: Security Council Plans To Expand Mission

New York, Jun 23 2005 6:00PM


The Security Council is set to vote tomorrow on a resolution to expand the 6,000-strong peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire by some 850 troops – less than half of the 2,000 personnel the United Nations says it needs to prevent the situation in the country from deteriorating.

Speaking to journalists after briefing the Council in closed session on the latest developments, Pierre Schori, head of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) said that without the number of extra troops he requested, “[the mission’s expansion] will not have the impact I had hoped for.”

“We need desperately reinforcements because of the mandated responsibilities we have received from the (Council) resolutions. We need them in order to be able to prevent and deter further tragedies, as you have seen in the west of the country recently, with massacres of 100 or 200 dead,” he said.

The mission also needed reinforcements to prevent the infiltration of child soldiers and militia members from neighbouring countries and to provide security for the upcoming elections, Mr. Schori said.

Meanwhile, he said, both sides were stalling over implementing the Pretoria Agreement, an accord drawn up, with South African President Thabo Mbeki as mediator, to stop the gaps in earlier agreements and the cocoa industry was being negatively affected.

The Permanent Ambassador of France, Ambassador Jean-Marc de la Sablière, added that in addition to a few hundred new police and soldiers there was also a possibility of getting 1,200 troops from other missions in the region, increasing the number by about 2,000 personnel.

According to the latest progress report from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, “protracted and dangerous” delays in implementing already signed agreements are eroding public confidence in Côte d’Ivoire’s peace process, even though some progress has been made on such issues as restructuring the nation’s armed forces.

“The full integrity of the Government of National Reconciliation has yet to be restored. Meanwhile, time is swiftly running out for the organization of the first round of the presidential elections, currently scheduled for 30 October,” it says.

In this connection, the National Assembly’s approval of the revised law on the composition of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the establishment of the reconstituted IEC need to be urgently completed since holding free and fair elections is vital to restoring the democratic order in the West African country, Mr. Annan says.

The UN will provide technical support for the vote, Mr. Annan says, and he will soon appoint a High Representative to ensure the credibility of the electoral process.

Mr. Annan urges the Ivorian National Armed Forces (FANCI) and the rebel Forces Nouvelles “to provide a comprehensive list of their armaments to UNOCI without further delay for use in the disarmament process and in the monitoring of the arms embargo.”

“Meanwhile, the continuing activities of militias pose a dangerous threat to security and their disarming and dismantling should proceed without delay. UNOCI will provide appropriate assistance to Prime Minister [Seydou] Diarra in undertaking the responsibilities entrusted to him for this process under the Pretoria Agreement,” he says.

ENDS

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