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Côte d'Ivoire election commission up, UN departs

With Côte d'Ivoire election commission up and running, UN official departs

Now that Côte d'Ivoire has established its Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the United Nations High Representative for elections in the country has departed, the world body's peacekeeping operation there (ONUCI) announced today.

Before leaving Abidjan on Friday, Antonio Monteiro expressed satisfaction with the results achieved so far in preparations for the polls.

The High Representative also acknowledged that problems remain and called for dialogue between all Ivorian parties in order to overcome their differences. He also stressed the need to let the Commission work in all fairness.

Mr. Monteiro, who spent eight months in Côte d'Ivoire supporting the electoral process, leaves his post to become Portugal's Ambassador to France.

Elections are scheduled for October 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 Laurent Gbagbo in September 2002 triggered a civil war.

Troops from the UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) 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 present in the country as part of UNOCI's mission.

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