Voicing concern about the escalating tensions in divided Côte d’Ivoire, where the peace process remains stalled, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged its political leadership to find common ground to resolve their many differences.
In a statement released by his spokesman, Mr. Annan called on President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny to “initiate a sustained political dialogue, with the participation of all Ivorian political leaders” to revive the peace process.
The Secretary-General urged Mr. Gbagbo and Mr. Banny to seek common ground on the key issues of resuming the disarmament process, identifying the population ahead of scheduled elections and developing possible post-election arrangements.
“The Ivorian people and the international community have invested considerable efforts in the political process,” Mr. Annan observed in his statement.
National elections originally slated for October this year had to be postponed until next year because of tensions inside the West African nation, which has been divided between the Government-held south and the rebel-controlled north since 2002. The UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) has more than 9,000 military or police personnel in place to maintain peace.
Last month the Security Council endorsed an African Union (AU) decision to renew the mandate of Mr. Banny and Mr. Gbagbo “for a new and final transition period not exceeding 12 months.”
Today’s statement added that Mr. Annan supports the efforts of the AU and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to try to revive the peace process.