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UN Warns of Threats Ahead Of Ivorian Elections

UN report warns of threats ahead as Ivorians prepare to conduct polls

17 October 2008 – Côte d’Ivoire still faces formidable obstacles before it can achieve true national reconciliation and begin the path to recovery, a United Nations report says today just weeks before the West African country is slated to conduct much-delayed presidential elections.

The dismantling and disarming of militia groups have stalled in some areas, not enough weapons of ex-combatants in the recent civil conflict have been collected and safely stored, and more progress is needed to redeploy State authority in the formerly rebel-held north, according to the latest report of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the UN peacekeeping mission to the country (known as UNOCI).

That lack of progress “has prevented the full reunification of the country and the complete restoration of State authority throughout the territory of Côte d’Ivoire following the lifting of the zone of confidence,” the report states, referring to the zone separating the north from the Government-controlled south after the end of fighting.

Mr. Ban urges the Government and the rebel Forces Nouvelles, which signed a peace accord in Ouagadougou early last year, to persevere in resolving the outstanding issues preventing full reunification, such as the arrangements for reunifying the armed and security forces and the establishment of an effective reintegration scheme for ex-combatants.

He warns that the presidential polls scheduled for 30 November “could become a source of instability… if not managed properly and transparently,” especially in the often delicate period immediately following elections.

“I would like to encourage the Ivorian leaders to maintain a commitment to the spirit of mutual accommodation and reconciliation.”

However, he stresses that Côte d’Ivoire has made important steps since the Ouagadougou Agreement towards sustained peace and stability, including the launch last month of the voter registration process.

Identification of Ivorians, and thus determining their eligibility for voting, has been one of the key points of contention in the country in recent years. Mobile courts were set up to travel around the country and identify eligible voters.

“I am particularly pleased about the success of the mobile courts operations and the consensus reached by the parties to resolve arising issues, including the need for supplementary operations of the courts in areas that were previously not adequately covered,” Mr. Ban writes.

“It is now imperative to carry forward the simultaneous issuance of identity cards and voter registration in an equally credible and transparent manner,” he says, adding that other issues, such as the possibility of adjusting the election timetable, should be dealt with in a spirit of consensus.

ENDS

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