Côte d'Ivoire: Annan urges action to implement peace agreement
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged the factions in Côte d'Ivoire to make good on pledges in an agreement aimed at ending the country's civil strife, and called for international support to bolster the effort.
Addressing the opening of the summit meeting in Paris which brought together the parties as well as other concerned leaders, Mr. Annan warned that the fragile peace process must be consolidated. "It is, of course, for the men and women of Côte d'Ivoire to repudiate this dark page of their history, but we can and we must help them to do so," he said, calling on donors to support the country's recovery.
The Secretary-General stressed the need to adopt long-term measures to forestall further conflict. "The stability of Côte d'Ivoire will depend on the emergence and consolidation of national justice, the building of a defence and security apparatus to protect the security of the people and the national territory, and above all responsible and unifying governance." The amnesty granted to the rebels was key to national reconciliation, he said, adding that crimes against innocent civilians must not go unpunished.
Mr. Annan pledged the UN's full support to the Ivoirian people and called on all present "not to disappoint the hopes that this peace agreement has engendered."
The Secretary-General repeated his call for action in remarks to a meeting on the follow-up mechanisms for the peace agreement, which he stressed was only a beginning. "The real hard work - the determined, sustained and good faith implementation of the agreement - begins now."
He voiced confidence that given prevailing conditions, including the impending formation of a government of national unity, "it should be very quickly possible to consolidate the ceasefire, begin disarmament, and help the Government to ensure that normal life can resume." He urged the international community to support the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in its efforts to contribute to peace in Côte d'Ivoire and pledged to seek continued Security Council backing for the peace process.
Mr. Annan also called on the parties to undertake a "thorough reform" of the country's defence and security forces. On the civilian and political side, he said the UN would "advise and assist" the parties in implementing the peace agreement.
The parties have agreed to the establishment of an international follow-up committee to facilitate monitoring compliance with the agreement. The committee will be based in Abidjan, and will include representatives of the UN, ECOWAS, the African Union, the European Union, France, the "Group of Eight" industrialized countries, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Organization of Francophonie. The Secretary-General said the panel should hold its first meeting in early February, focusing on drawing up a timetable for the accord's implementation.