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Côte d’Ivoire: UN mission should expand and extend

UN mission in Côte d’Ivoire should be expanded and extended for one year, Annan says

Citing the volatile security situation in Côte d’Ivoire, Secretary-General Kofi Annan is recommending the deployment of more than 3,000 extra troops and hundreds of additional police officers to strengthen the United Nations peacekeeping operation in the divided West African country.

In his latest report to the Security Council on the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), released today, Mr. Annan also recommended extending the mission’s mandate for another 12 months, until 24 January 2007, to assist in a peace process that includes elections planned for this October.

The Council’s expressed political determination to move the Ivorian peace process forward “must be matched by a commensurate reinforcement of UNOCI,” the Secretary-General said.

The recommendations, based on information obtained by a technical team sent to Côte d’Ivoire, call for an additional 3,400 soldiers or four battalions to be added to UNOCI’s troop strength, plus an additional 475 police personnel.

Mr. Annan said the increases were needed to assist with the tasks of the broader peace process, which include disarming and demobilizing combatants. They are also required in light of “the volatile security situation and the possibility that another major violent crisis might occur.”

The Council established the mission in May 2003 to assist the Ivorian parties to implement the peace agreement they signed in January 2003, ending their north-south civil war.

The proposed increase would constitute a marked expansion of UNOCI, which presently has an authorized strength of up to 7,090 military personnel and 725 police officers.

In the report, Mr. Annan also called on all Ivorian parties to fully cooperate with Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny and his Government, which came into office in December.

“The challenges ahead are formidable and urgent. Much time has been lost and the situation brooks no further delays,” the Secretary-General cautioned.

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