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Ivorian Peace Process Tops Ban Ki-moon Agenda

Ivorian peace process tops agenda of Ban Ki-moon's final stops in West Africa

23 April 2008 - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today reaffirmed the continued support of the United Nations for Côte d'Ivoire's peace process, including the elections slated for later this year, as he arrived in Abidjan, the final stop on a four-nation tour that also took him to Ghana, Liberia and Burkina Faso.

Mr. Ban met with President Laurent Gbagbo soon after his arrival in the West African nation, and also with Prime Minister Guillaume Soro.

Yesterday, in Burkina Faso, the Secretary-General discussed the Ivorian peace process with President Blaise Compaoré, the facilitator of that process, and thanked him for his work in the inter-Ivorian dialogue.

Côte d'Ivoire became divided in 2002 between the Government-controlled south and the rebel Forces Nouvelles-held north, but a peace agreement concluded in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, paved the way for an end to the conflict and included a provision calling for free and fair elections to be held.

Presidential polls were to be held as far back as 2005, but after having been delayed several times since, are now scheduled for 30 November.

Following his meeting with Mr. Compaoré, Mr. Ban said he was encouraged that the Ivorian Government has set a date for elections and that he would encourage Mr. Gbagbo to keep this commitment.

"I hope that we will soon see stability and peace and development in Côte d'Ivoire," Mr. Ban told reporters, adding that "the road to elections is fraught with many challenges, many difficulties."

Mr. Ban also met yesterday with Burkina Faso's Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament, and discussed with them the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), good governance and poverty reduction.

Before leaving Burkina Faso this morning, the Secretary-General visited the Manegda School - a primary school on the outskirts of Ouagadougou that is supported by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). While there he planted a tree and offered ten computers to the schoolchildren.

After wrapping up his West Africa trip, Mr. Ban will travel to Vienna where he will meet on Friday with the Federal Chancellor of Austria, Alfred Gusenbauer.

He will also attend the inauguration of additional conference facilities at the Vienna International Centre, where the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN office in Vienna, the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) Organization have their headquarters.

Following that, the Secretary General heads to Switzerland, where on Monday in Bern he will chair the meeting of the UN Chief Executive Board, which brings together 27 heads of UN agencies, funds and programmes. The gathering will largely focus on increasing food prices and the possible responses from the UN system.

On Tuesday Mr. Ban will be in Geneva, where he will deliver the first of a series of lectures organized by the UN office there and the UN Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). More than 1,500 people are expected to attend the lecture - entitled "Are the development goals doomed to fail?" - which will include an interactive segment, with questions that have been coming in from the audience through three Swiss media outlets in the last few days.

The Secretary-General will then head to London, where on 2 May he will chair a meeting of the diplomatic Quartet on the Middle East - the UN, the European Union, Russia and the United States. The gathering will review all aspects of the peace process launched in the US city of Annapolis late last year and the situation on the ground.

The Quartet meeting will take place in the margins of a meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee on the same day. The AHLC is convening to assess progress in Palestinian institutional and economic development since its meeting in New York last September.


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