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Côte d’Ivoire: preparations for poll delayed

Côte d’Ivoire: UN election official says preparations for poll delayed

With divided Côte d’Ivoire facing an election deadline of next October, the United Nations High Representative for the poll said today that the Ivorian electoral commission could not begin its work by tomorrow, as scheduled, because of a dispute over its makeup.

High Representative Antonio Monteiro said the Ivorian Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)’s work was delayed by disagreements over the validity of last October’s elections of the Commission’s central bureau.

He called on President Laurent Gbagbo, Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny and the West African country’s political parties to reach a political understanding as soon as possible so that the elections could be organized by the 31 October deadline the UN Security Council has set.

“The persistence of the problem over the effective establishment of the IEC’s Central Commission Bureau seriously jeopardizes the capacity of the Ivorian Government to implement the already defined road map allowing the holding of free, fair, open and transparent elections as soon as possible and no later than 31 October 2006,” Mr. Monteiro said.

As defined by the Pretoria peace agreement, the IEC is a provisional institution specially established to assure the democratic nature and sound management of the electoral process and is designed to end the Ivorian crisis.

“The distribution of functions within the Central Commission should aim at guaranteeing the impartiality of decisions,” Mr. Monteiro added.

Côte d’Ivoire was divided into a Government-ruled south and rebel-held north after the failure of an attempted coup against President Gbagbo in September 2002 triggered a civil war.

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