Advance party of UN peacekeepers arrive in Côte d'Ivoire

31 March 2004

An advance party of 30 military officers and five United Nations civilian police officers arrived today in Côte d'Ivoire from neighbouring Ghana, where they were in training for the full peacekeeping mission that is scheduled to be launched on 4 April.

The full mission, the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire, (UNOCI), will replace the small UN mission, MUNUCI, currently in place, along with a force from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), which will be folded into UNOCI.

UN peacekeeping chief Jean-Marie Guéhenno briefed the 15-member Security Council on the situation in Côte d'Ivoire and later told journalists that the build-up of forces would be gradual through April and May, with a significant number deployed by May or June.

Assembling enough French-speaking civilian police was turning out to be a problem but language capability was more important for police, who had greater interaction with the public, than it was for the military, he said.

The government of the West African country and the then-rebel Forces Nouvelles signed a peace agreement in Linas-Marcoussis, France, in January 2003, ending fierce fighting and setting up a government of national unity. A "Memorandum of Political Signatories of the Linas-Marcoussis and Accra II Agreements," was recently given to President Laurent Gbagbo for further negotiations over sticking-points.

Mr. Annan has reminded the political parties that the UN is preparing to deploy a peacekeeping force, but the Ivorian parties would have to show the political will to reject violence and work towards genuine reconciliation and mutual accommodation.