The Côte d'Ivoire Government of National Reconciliation has pledged to move forward on its peace agreement with the armed opposition by submitting the recommended political reforms to the National Assembly next month and complementing United Nations peacekeeping actions, a UN Security Council mission visiting West Africa said today.
A statement issued in Bissau by the 14-member mission confirmed that in response to its demands, Ivoirian President Laurent Gbagbo confirmed that the Status of Forces Agreement with the UN would be signed by the end of this month, while technical modalities would be finalized to enable the UN peacekeeping mission (UNOCI) to start operating its radio programme.
"According to a new schedule of implementation of the provisions of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement, all the envisaged fundamental political reforms would be submitted to the National Assembly by 28 July 2004," it added.
The mission, which is scheduled to wrap up in Senegal tomorrow after trips to Guinea-Bissau and Guinea, is led by British Ambassador Sir Emyr Jones Parry. The other fact-finding mission members represent Algeria, Angola, Benin, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, Pakistan, the Philippines, Romania, Spain and the United States. Russia did not take part.
In a review so far of the trip, which began on 20 June, the mission noted improvement in Liberia's security situation, except for the areas bordering Côte d'Ivoire and Guinea. It called on donors to pay up pledges so that the Liberian National Government of Transition could continue to reintegrate ex-combatants into their communities and reduce corruption.
On Saturday, the mission visited Nigeria - a country which Ambassador Jones Parry said "has such a pivotal influence both on West Africa and in the whole of Africa."
Responding to press questions, he said talks with President Olusegun Obasanjo did not touch on Liberian President Charles Taylor, who is living in Nigeria. The exiled former leader has been charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder, rape and terrorism in Sierra Leone, by that country's Special Court.
Concerning Sierra Leone, the statement said the country's post-conflict peace consolidation was going well, "though much remains to be done, especially in reducing corruption, enhancing the capacity of the armed forces, reintegrating ex-combatants, and creating youth employment."
The mission teamed up with an Economic and Social Council delegation in Guinea-Bissau, where it said dramatic progress has taken place, citing successful elections in March and progress in public finance and governance. At the same time, Security Council members warned that urgent support is needed in restructuring the armed forces and developing institutional capacity.
The mission commended the regional peace-building work of the Economic Commission of West Africa (ECOWAS) and called on the international community to continue supporting it.