Côte d'Ivoire: UN forces put on alert following attack on police post

Côte d'Ivoire: UN forces put on alert following attack on police post

Peacekeepers in Cote d'Ivoire
With elections in Côte d'Ivoire barely three months away, the United Nations 6,500-strong force has been put on alert and is sending military units to help restore calm after an attack by unidentified assailants on a Gendarme brigade and police station in Anyama, north of Abidjan, the strife-torn West African country's major city.

The UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) was set up last year to prevent hostile actions from undermining a ceasefire between the National Armed Forces of Côte d'Ivoire (FANCI) and the Forces nouvelles, who have split the world's largest cocoa producer into a government-controlled south and rebel-controlled north.

"UNOCI calls on all parties to refrain from any action that could further contribute to the deterioration of an already worrying situation," the mission said in a statement yesterday, adding that according to information from the Ivorian Security and Defence Forces (FDS), Saturday's attackers have moved to Agboville, 70 kilometres north of Abidjan.

"UNOCI strongly condemns this attack, which could jeopardize the important progress made in the peace process, particularly after the second Pretoria meeting of 28 and 29 June 2005," it added, referring to an agreement mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki establishing a new timeline for disarmament and elections.

Earlier this month the UN Security Council demanded that all Ivorian parties and signatories "scrupulously comply" with all aspects of the new deal, the latest effort to revive a peace process deadlocked since April when talks faltered over the timetable. The elections, now scheduled for October, are meant to formally end the conflict that exploded when rebels tried to oust President Laurent Gbagbo in 2002, seizing the north.

Just 10 days ago Secretary-General General Kofi Annan announced the appointment of former Portuguese Foreign Minister António Monteiro as autonomous High Representative for the elections.