UN mission delays start of disarmament in Côte d’Ivoire

9 June 2006

The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire has postponed the start of militia disarmament in response to factional leaders who said they needed more time to raise awareness among their followers about the scheduled process whose starting deadline was to have been yesterday.

The beginning of the disarmament was postponed so as to allow the operation to be carried out more efficiently, according to Jean-Luc Stalon, the head of the Division for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI, also known by the French acronym, ONUCI).

The militia leaders made their request after a meeting with the national DDR chief, General Gaston Ouassénan Kone, Mr. Stalon said in Abidjan, expressing the hope that the exercise would begin in the coming days.

The UN Security Council established the mission in May 2003 to help the Ivorian parties implement the peace agreement they signed in January 2003. The pact ended the north-south civil war that erupted after an attempted coup failed to unseat President Laurent Gbagbo.

Meanwhile, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Pierre Schori, was visiting Sweden and France to inform the authorities in those countries of the latest developments in bringing the divided West African country out of its crisis, UNOCI spokesman Hamadoun Touré said.

He added that Mr. Schori also wished the national soccer team, the Elephants, good luck as they went to take part in the World Cup for the first time in the country’s history.

 

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