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Côte d’Ivoire: UN troops redeployed

Côte d’Ivoire: UN troops deploy back to western town following January violence

United Nations peacekeepers have been redeployed to a western town in Côte d’Ivoire two months after they were withdrawn following violent anti-UN demonstrations.

A small group of Bangladeshi and Beninois troops of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), which is helping to ensure a ceasefire and a political transition after the West African country was split in two in fighting between Government and opposition forces in 2002, arrived in the town of Blolequin yesterday.

There is now a UNOCI military presence in Blolequin with some 70 peacekeepers, and a further 150 in Toulepleu, the mission reported today. The redeployment in the west started on 20 March and is set to continue with the establishment of a headquarter base in Duékoué in the coming days.

“The local ‘population’ and the leader of the Young Patriots in Toulepleu had objected to the presence of the Beninois troops,” UNOCI said in a statement.

In another development, the University of Bouaké, in the rebel-held north, opened its doors today for the first time in three years and students attended the first lecture of International Public Law, the mission reported. Minister of Higher Education Cissé Bakongo said that the Government had kept its promise to open the university as soon as possible. The rebel Forces Nouvelles has promised to ensure security for all lecturers.

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