In a further sign of improvement in Côte d'Ivoire, newspapers have returned to the stands for the first time since they were forced off a month ago when new violence erupted after Government forces bombed rebel positions in breach of a nearly two-year-old ceasefire, the United Nations mission reported today.
Welcoming their return, the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) also noted that South African President Thabo Mbeki was due to arrive in the West African country today as part of an effort to bring the peace process back on track.
The latest crisis began on 4 November when Government forces bombed rebel positions in the UN-patrolled Zone of Confidence (ZOC) separating the combatants. Two days later government forces bombed French peacekeepers there, killing nine. In retaliation, French troops destroyed the Government's air force. This led to widespread rioting, looting and harassment of foreigners, and the flight of thousands of Ivorian refugees and expatriates, mainly French.
UNOCI was set up in April to help implement the peace accords between the Government and rebels signed in January 2003.