The heads of the five United Nations peacekeeping and political missions in West Africa today decried attempts to derail elections in Liberia and called on the parties in Côte d'Ivoire to break the "perennial impasse" in that country's peace process.
Their statement came in a communiqué issued at the end of their meeting in the Liberian capital of Monrovia.
High-level meetings were established following a request by the Security Council for UN peace missions in the region to take concrete action towards implementing a regional approach, including pulling together UN assets across and exploiting synergies among the operations to achieve greater efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
The envoys welcomed progress made in the peace process in Liberia, but voiced deep concern at the existence of a "coalition of the unwilling" who seek to derail the election and the entire peace process. They stressed the importance of quickly passing an electoral law in accordance with the comprehensive peace agreement.
On Côte d'Ivoire, the UN officials appealed for good faith on the part of all Ivorian parties to ensure that they live up to commitments undertaken before the international community. They also emphasized the importance of freeing the country's media to ensure that State-owned outlets are managed in a way that gives equal access to all parties and all views.
They also addressed Sierra Leone, stressing the need for a smooth and realistic exit strategy for the UN, and welcoming the UN transitional plan aimed at moving from peacekeeping to peace-building.
On Guinea Bissau, they agreed on the need to address immediately the issue of security sector reform and the strengthening of state governance as a prerequisite for sustainable peace-building and post conflict recovery. They drew attention to the fact that the increasing deterioration of the situation in the country may require the strengthening of peace-making elements of the mandate of UN Peace-building Office in Guinea-Bissau (UNOGBIS).
The meeting was hosted by Jacques Paul Klein, chief of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), and chaired by Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the Special Representative of Secretary-General Kofi Annan for West Africa and head of the UN Office for West Africa (UNOWA). The other participating officials were Albert Tévoédjrè, head of the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), UNAMSIL chief Daudi Ngelautwa Mwakawago and UNOGBIS chief João Honwana.