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Côte d’Ivoire: meeting of leaders of rival sides

Côte d’Ivoire: UN hails first meeting on Ivorian soil of leaders of rival sides

The United Nations Mission in Côte d’Ivoire today hailed the first meeting of the main political and military leaders on Ivorian soil since the 2002 civil war as “a significant step on the road to national reconciliation” in the divided country.

“The meeting is an indication of the political will needed in order to advance the peace process,” the UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI) said of yesterday’s meeting in Yamoussoukro, the capital. “It also sends a positive message not only to the people of Côte d’Ivoire but also to the rest of the world.”

UNOCI added that it was convinced that this initiative would go a long way towards strengthening the necessary trust between the political parties in Côte d’Ivoire, which 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.

UNOCI troops and the UN-authorized French Licorne forces have been guarding the so-called Zone of Confidence separating the two areas in this nation, once the world’s top cocoa producer.

More than 7,500 uniformed UN personnel are at present in the country as part of UNOCI’s mission to monitor the ceasefire between the warring parties as well as to help disarm and dismantle militias and support the organization of free, fair and transparent elections.

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