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Côte d’Ivoire Diamond, Travel Sanctions Extended

Security Council extends diamond and travel sanctions on Côte d’Ivoire

29 October 2008 – The Security Council voted today to renew for another year a ban on diamonds and an arms embargo against Côte d’Ivoire, as well as targeted sanctions restricting the travel of individuals.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member body today said it would review these measures next October to determine whether progress has been made in putting key aspects of the peace process into place and positive steps made in the long-delayed elections.

The Ouagadougou Agreement – signed in neighbouring Burkina Faso last March between the Government, which controlled the south, and the rebel Forces Nouvelles, which held the north – called for a number of measures to resolve the crisis that first divided the West African country in 2002.

Today’s resolution also extended the mandate by one year of the Group of Experts established to monitor sanctions against the country, calling on the parties to the peace pact, especially the Ivorian authorities, to “provide unhindered access” to the UN team to equipment, sites and installations.

It also said that “any threat to the electoral process in Côte d’Ivoire, in particular any attack or obstruction of the Independent Electoral Commission in charge of the organization of the elections,” constitutes a threat to peace and the country’s national reconciliation process.

The Council requested Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the French Government provide immediate reports should any “serious obstacle” impede the freedom of movement of the UN peacekeeping operation in the country (known as UNOCI) and the French forces which support it.

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On Monday, the body heard from the top UN envoy to Côte d’Ivoire, who warned that increasing delays in the dual identification and electoral processes are imperilling the hard-won peace in the nation, which is rebuilding after a brutal 14-year civil war.

Nearly six weeks have passed since the launch of the identification and voter registration drive, which was slated to wrap up at the end of this month, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative Y. J. Choi told the Security Council in an open meeting.

“Unfortunately, the pace of progress has been painfully slow,” he said. The pace will soon accelerate, but “the magnitude of delay has taken almost everybody by surprise.”

ENDS

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