UN official says Côte d’Ivoire nationals must take ownership of peace process

31 August 2005

The peace process in the Côte d’Ivoire has moved from globalization, with United Nations involvement, to Africanization, with African Union (AU) mediation, and now Ivorians must take responsibility for nationalizing the next steps, the head of the UN peacekeeping mission in the West African country said today.

Speaking to journalists after he briefed the Security Council, Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) Pierre Schori said, “The Ivorians themselves must now take real responsibilities,” jump-starting the next phase by persuading the major rebel group controlling the north, the Forces Nouvelles (FE), to prepare for disarmament and dismantling the militia in the Government-controlled south.

Replying to a question about the future of AU mediator South Africa, Mr. Schori, head of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), said the statement put out yesterday by Pretoria had created confusion, but that South Africa would continue with the mediation or would help implement the Pretoria Agreement and Declaration of 29 June.

The general sense in Pretoria was that South Africa had done what it was supposed to do, which was to negotiate with all the parties and persuade them to sign on to the road map to peace and if the Ivorians did not take their responsibilities, the international community needed to use stronger measures.

The South Africans themselves had experienced moving to peace and democracy, but had not witnessed that kind of movement from the Ivorians, Mr. Schori said. “This is a country that shouldn’t be where it is,” but the parties met only when invited by outsiders and never took the initiative to sit down to talk.

The UN High Representative for the elections was leaving UN Headquarters for Côte d’Ivoire on Monday and would hold bilateral talks with all the parties to get their suggestions on what had to be done after the FN and other opposition factions said the 30 October election date was no longer valid.

Mr. Schori said he was more interested in the steps to be taken to hold the elections than in the dates set. All parties had to be represented in the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the FN had finally nominated six members and other parties had to do the same.

Meanwhile, the monthly report on human rights across the country made "grim reading" because of the absence of the rule of law, the daily harassment of people and the feeling of insecurity. He said he had not seen any city with so many Kalashnikovs as Abidjan, the country’s major commercial hub.

UNOCI announced from Abidjan that Corporal Radi Aziz of Morocco, who succumbed to his injuries in the rebel stronghold, Bouaké, today, became the sixth soldier to die since the mission was deployed in April of last year. He received blows and stab wounds from unidentified assailants and an investigation has been launched, it said.

Mr. Schori said Government forces, FANCI, and the “Jeunes Patriotes” militia had adopted a new strategy of taking unarmed civilians as human shields as they stopped UNOCI patrols, contributing to the insecurity of the peacekeepers whose cars were sometimes stoned, he said.

The rumours about possible coups and foreign infiltrations also contributed to the feeling of insecurity, he said.


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