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Côte D’ivoire Elections Should Not Be Delayed

Côte D’ivoire Elections Should Not Be Delayed Past December, Nigerian Minister Tells UN

New York, Sep 25 2006 6:00PM

Elections in the divided West African nation of Côte d’Ivoire are unlikely to take place next month as scheduled, but if they are not staged before the end of this year then the Security Council must be ready to intervene and impose heavy sanctions on those causing the delays, Nigeria’s Foreign Minister told the General Assembly today.

Speaking during the annual debate, U. Joy Ogwa – in an address delivered on behalf of President Olusegun Obasanjo – welcomed recent efforts by the Ivorian parties and urged them to “remain steadfast in their commitment in order to ensure that the peace process remains on course.

But she also said the timetable for elections has been delayed and warned that it must not be further postponed. “It is now doubtful that elections can take place in October [but they] must not be allowed to be frustrated beyond 31 December.”

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is set to tackle the issue, she noted, but warned that if this effort does not succeed, “a resolution of the Security Council will become necessary to impose heavy sanctions on all culprits and their relations.”

She also decried the proliferation of arms in West Africa and hailed the fact that ECOWAS had adopted a landmark Convention on Small Arms this June. This stood in contrast to the inability of the UN to agree on the issue, she said, voicing “deep disappointment that the first UN Review Conference on Small Arms and Light Weapons failed to agree on a final document, including a similar ban on arms suppliers to non-State actors.

Joining Nigeria in this call was the Foreign Minister of Gabon, Jean Ping. He said the 2001 Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons, in All its Aspects had represented a “major breakthrough” but further action is needed.

“We do regret though that the Review Conference held in July ended in failure,” he said. “Despite this we need to continue implementation of that programme as well as the international instrument on tracing and marking small arms and light weapons,” he added, calling also for negotiations leading to the adoption of a similar pact `n brokering of such weapons.

The Foreign Minister of the Central African Republic, Cöme Zoumara, said the proliferation of small arms and light weapons was a blight exacerbating the problems in the country, which bordered Sudan and Chad.

The Central African Republic was working to address the rebellion in the north-east of its territory – the border area – but the problems there were endemic, he said. The rebels were organizing ambushes in the region and the armed forces deployed there faced numerous obstacles.

ends

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