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Migiro Talks With Leaders Of 3 Troubled Countries

Migiro holds talks with leaders of three troubled African countries

Deputy Secretary-General Asha-Rose Migiro has held talks with the leaders of three African countries facing enormous political, economic and social challenges - Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau and Somalia - during her visit to Lisbon, Portugal, this weekend to attend the African Union-European Union summit.

During her meeting with Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, Ms. Migiro stressed how important it was that the West African nation's electoral process takes place as planned so that its democratic institutions - buffeted by five years of divide between the Government-controlled south and the rebel-held north - can rebuild.

Mr. Gbagbo assured Ms. Migiro that he is doing everything possible to meet United Nations' expectations on the electoral process, UN spokesperson Marie Okabe told reporters today.

He called for enhanced support for both the electoral process and the wider implementation of the Ouagadougou peace accord, the March agreement for ending the prolonged political stand-off between the Government and the rebels.

The accord outlines a series of measures, including: the creation of a new transitional government; organizing free and fair presidential elections; the merging of the rebel Forces Nouvelles and the national defence and security forces through an integrated command centre; the dismantling of militias and disarming of ex-combatants; and the replacement of the so-called zone of confidence separating north and south with a green line to be monitored by the UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNOCI.

Speaking with President João Bernardo Vieira of Guinea-Bissau, Ms. Migiro voiced concern about his country's growing role as a transit point for international drug trafficking.

Last week Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also called for the mandate of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office to the country (UNOGBIS) to be extended by a year, in part so that it can continue to assist the Government to combat illegal drug trafficking.

Appealing for greater regional cooperation and national Government intervention, Ms. Migiro assured Mr. Vieira that the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will maintain its support.

The Deputy Secretary-General also called on the President of Guinea-Bissau to ensure that elections due next year are held as planned so that a constitutional crisis is averted.

Mr. Vieira noted that the electoral commission's greatest challenge is a lack of resources to update the voter register in Guinea-Bissau.

Meanwhile, Ms. Migiro also held a bilateral meeting with the new Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein.


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