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Annan's Special Representative in troubled Côte d'Ivoire resigns

Annan's Special Representative in troubled Côte d'Ivoire resigns

Albert Tévoédjrè
The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in strife-torn Côte d'Ivoire has resigned, the UN spokesman said today.

In a letter dated 24 November, Albert Tévoédjrè, head of the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), resigned effective the end of next month, or until he could be replaced, spokesman Fred Eckhard said in New York.

The 75-year-old official, a former senior minister from Benin, "felt he's made a good effort, but it's time for him to move on," Mr. Eckhard added.

UNOCI was established in April to help implement January 2003 peace accords between the Government and rebels.

Early last month government forces bombed rebel positions in the UN-patrolled Zone of Confidence (ZOC) separating the combatants. Two days later government forces also bombed French Licorne peacekeepers there, killing nine.

French troops retaliated by destroying the Government's air force, leading to widespread rioting, looting and harassment of foreigners. Thousands of French expatriates and some Ivorian refugees fled the country.

Mr. Eckhard said Mr. Tévoédjrè's deputy, Allan Doss, yesterday accompanied South African President Thabo Mbeki to Bouaké, headquarters town of the dissident northern forces, and took part in the closed-door meeting between Mr. Mbeki and the head of the Mouvement Patriotique de Côte d'Ivoire (MPCI), Guillaume Soro, in a bid to restart the peace process.

Last Wednesday, representatives of the rebel Forces Nouvelles in Bouaké assured Mr. Doss that there would be unimpeded access for UN peacekeepers, military observers and UN and other humanitarian agencies' personnel. A UN plane had met shots fired in the air, threats and hostile slogans the previous week.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) suspended its humanitarian flights after the incident.