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Steps Toward Ivorian Presidential Polls Welcomed

Security Council welcomes steps toward holding of Ivorian presidential polls

29 April 2008 - The Security Council today welcomed the news that Côte d'Ivoire will be holding previously delayed presidential elections on 30 November, and urged the West African nation to redouble its efforts to meet that vital goal on the path to peace.

The announcement of the election date, supported by all Ivorian parties, and the signing by President Laurent Gbagbo of related decrees, constitute "an important step forward," according to a statement read out by Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo of South Africa, which holds the rotating Council presidency for April.

Côte d'Ivoire became divided in 2002 between the Government-controlled south and the rebel Forces Nouvelles-held north, but last year's Ouagadougou Peace Agreement 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 have been delayed several times since then.

During his visit to the country last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon encouraged all the main political actors in Côte d'Ivoire to continue making progress in the country's peace process.

"We all know however that considerable challenges remain to be addressed," Mr. Ban said. "The road to the elections, to sustainable peace and reconciliation, may be treacherous and we should be vigilant."

In addition to the setting of the election date, the Council said it was encouraged by the signing last week, under the auspices of the Secretary-General, of a Code of Good Conduct for elections by all political parties.

The 15-member body also encouraged the parties to build on the ongoing mobile courts' process for the identification of the Ivorian population and registration of voters, and said it looked forward to the publication of the electoral list "as a crucial step in the electoral process."

The Council adopted the presidential statement after receiving a closed-door briefing by the Secretary-General's Special Representative in Côte d'Ivoire, Choi Young-Jin.

Mr. Choi's active engagement, as well as the continued support of President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso to the country's peace process, "has been instrumental towards achieving the establishment of a consensus among all political parties to hold presidential elections in 2008," the Council added.

ENDS

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