All political sides in divided and strife-torn Côte d’Ivoire must compromise to move the peace process forward, the two most senior United Nations officials to the West African country said today, but while painting a generally grim picture of the situation they held out some hope for change next year.
“I think that if we’re going to get to a sustainable peace we need to have concessions and compromise, that is also at the root of a democracy,” Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s Special Representative for Cote d’Ivoire, Pierre Schori, told reporters after briefing the Security Council.
“I think the example of South Africa is such – they even negotiated, the ANC (African National Congress), from prison with the oppressors and that was a much worse situation …we finally have to sit down and talk to them and they have to talk to each other above all. We have an ongoing dialogue with everyone in Côte d’Ivoire.”
The Council, which first held a closed meeting and then consultations, was also briefed by Said Djinnit of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, as well as hearing from the UN’s High Representative for elections in the country, Gerard Stoudman, who held out some cause for optimism next year.
“Something will have to happen in 2007. We cannot continue one year after the other not to have elections; people are fed up, people are tired and even the basis of the political parties, the militants, are also tired …so I think that there is a chance that results will come in 2007 and we will work for that, but I’m not taking any bets of course,” he told the reporters.
Mr. Stoudman also called for more “political will” from the country’s leaders to move toward elections by the end of October 2007. In his most recent report on the country last week, Mr. Annan warned that the “manifest lack of political will” among the main political leaders was undermining UN efforts to restore stability.
In a related development, the UN mission in Côte d’Ivoire has called on the leaders of the Forces Nouvelles group, which controls the northern part of the divided country, to ensure that their partisans contribute actively to the peace process.
“These leaders should also put an end to positions on the Forces Nouvelles internet site which incite violence and the denigration of the international community,” the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) said in a statement yesterday.
The mission, with nearly 9,000 uniformed personnel, is mandated to monitor the cessation of hostilities between Government and rebel forces which split the country in two in 2002, and support the organization of open, free, fair and transparent elections. These have yet to take place.
“UNOCI reminds all parties of their obligation to respect scrupulously the engagements they have freely undertaken under various peace agreements, as well as the pertinent terms of [UN] Security Council resolutions on Côte d’Ivoire seeking a rapid return of peace, stability and prosperity for all Ivorians,” yesterday’s statement said.