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Annan addresses West African summit on Côte d'Ivoire

Annan addresses West African summit on Côte d'Ivoire

Kofi Annan (R) with Ivoirian President Laurent Gbagbo
Addressing a West African summit in Ghana, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appealed to the opposing parties in Côte d'Ivoire to use the meeting to break the present deadlock in the peace process and to speak candidly about any contentious issues.

"I look to you to put aside partisan and personal interests and work together in a spirit of commitment and compromise," he told the Ivorian representatives at the meeting of 12 heads of member countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

"Only in this way can you forge the political consensus needed to move forward on the implementation of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement," he said, referring to an accord reached last year in France which he called "the roadmap for resolving the crisis, and bringing an end to the long and deep suffering of the people of Côte d'Ivoire."

He reminded all Ivoirian parties that they should shoulder responsibility for ensuring unconditional implementation of the peace agreement, adding that the United Nations needed full cooperation from both leaders and people "to allow us to provide maximum support for your efforts to restore peace and stability."

The peace process has largely been deadlocked over differences of interpretation by President Laurent Gbagbo and the opposition Forces Nouvelles. Mr. Gbagbo suspended his support for opposition ministers in May and the Forces Nouvelles left the transitional government.

Mr. Annan told the summit that the top priority was reconstituting Côte d'Ivoire's Government of National Reconciliation, including the delegation of responsibilities between President and Prime Minister, so as to restore normalcy to the country.

Among the other compromises to be made were defining the eligibility to contest presidential elections, establishing an Independent Electoral Commission, instituting land tenure and identification systems, ending human rights violations and working out timetables for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) of ex-combatants.

On DDR, Mr. Annan pledged that the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (ONUCI) will assist "by ensuring adequate security in the transitional phase and by helping the Ivorian army and police in the formation of integrated security forces."

Before opening the summit, Mr. Annan met African Union (AU) Commission Chairman Alpha Koumar Konaré for talks that covered the crisis of conflict and displacement in Darfur, Sudan.

In another pre-summit meeting, Mr. Gbagbo reviewed for Mr. Annan the implementation of the agreements he made at a mini-summit earlier this month in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.