Annan proposes new UN mission to guide peace process in Côte d'Ivoire

Annan proposes new UN mission to guide peace process in Côte d'Ivoire

As the various factions in Côte d'Ivoire grapple with the challenges of rebuilding their nation in the aftermath of sixth months of conflict, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has proposed the creation of a new United Nations mission in the country to help smooth progress towards implementation of a crucial power-sharing peace accord.

Mr. Annan's proposal that the Security Council consider establishing the UN Mission in Côte d'Ivoire (MINUCI), as well as other recommendations outlining possible ways the UN can support the Ivoirian peace process, are included in his just-released report on the situation in the strife-torn West African country.

The Secretary-General says the proposed mission would be headed by his Special Representative, Albert Tévoedjré, who would also devise, in consultation with humanitarian and development agencies, an appropriate coordinating strategy that will enhance wider UN response to the complicated Ivoirian crises and its consequences.

The Secretary-General stresses that the French-brokered Linas-Marcoussis Agreement - which calls upon the government, rebels and political opposition to share power in a transitional government until elections in 2005 - offers the best chance for the Ivoirian people to peacefully resolve the conflict that threatens to plunge their country into a crisis rivalling "those that have devastated neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone."

The report notes that regrettably, wrangling over power-sharing arrangements, which ignited massive, and often violent, civil demonstrations in and around Abidjan in early February, had delayed the Agreement's implementation. Mr. Annan stresses that although the new government of national reconciliation had been subsequently able to hold two meetings, the ministers nominated by the rebel movements have yet to take up their posts.

"I urge the parties to overcome their differences, in order to allow the new government to start functioning without further delay and to address the bigger challenge of implementing the work programme set up in the Linas-Marcoussis agreement," Mr. Annan says, adding that priority must be given to providing security for members of the new government.

The Secretary-General also mentions his serious concern about the logistical constraints facing the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) force and urges donor countries to urgently provide the necessary material and financial support. He stresses the critical need to increase funding to allow UN and other agencies to address the "precarious" humanitarian situation in the country, particularly ongoing population displacements, widespread human rights abuses and growing vulnerability of communities because of the deterioration of the country's social and economic fabric.

"It would be unfortunate, if the troop contributors who came forward with offers to provide troops, on the basis of promises made by donor countries, were to find themselves facing the same circumstances that compelled other ECOWAS troops to put an end to their operation in Sierra Leone early in 2000."