Noting the mixed progress made by both sides in the divided West African country of Cote d’Ivoire in implementing this year’s peace accord, the Security Council today called on them to meet all their commitments, from registering voters to disarming and dismantling militias to restoring State authority.<
Ambassador Leslie K. Christian of Ghana, which holds the rotating Council presidency this month, read a statement to the press in which members welcomed the measures taken so far to implement March’s Ouagadougou Agreement but voiced concern at the delays in meeting some benchmarks.
Mr. Christian, who spoke to the press after an open meeting of the Council on Côte d’Ivoire, also said it was vital to have in place the necessary guarantees to ensure that planned presidential elections are free and fair.
Earlier, Abou Moussa, the Secretary-General’s Principal Deputy Special Representative for the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), told the Council that there have been mixed results in implementing the Ouagadougou pact, which sets out a series of measures for resolving the crisis that first divided the country between the Government-controlled south and the rebel Forces Nouvelles-held north in 2002.
They include creating a new transitional government; organizing free and fair presidential elections; merging the Forces Nouvelles and the national defence and security forces through the establishment of an integrated command centre; dismantling the militias and disarming ex-combatants; and replacing the so-called zone of confidence separating north and south with a green line to be monitored by UNOCI.
Mr. Moussa said none of the benchmarks set to consider adjusting the mandate or troop level of UNOCI, such as the dismantling and disarmament of the militia and the deployment of State administration across the country, have been met.
But the zone of confidence separating the forces of the two sides is being gradually dismantled, with the deployment of six mixed brigades involving soldiers from both sides, and the leaders of the Government and the Forces Nouvelles have remained committed to supporting the peace process.
The turnout at the mobile court hearings, used as part of the process of identifying voters ahead of planned national elections, has steadily improved since their re-launch last month thanks to a campaign of public awareness and sensitivity, Mr. Moussa said.
The Government and the Forces Nouvelles are also addressing the lingering security, logistical and financial constraints to restoring State authority throughout the country.
The envoy said, however, that serious challenges remain, especially in ensuring an integrated army involving the two sides and in starting the dismantling of the militias.
Mr. Moussa stressed how important it was for all parties to meet their deadlines and commitments to the Ouagadougou pact, and he said the UN stood ready to continue to support that process.
Burkina Faso’s Foreign Minister Djibrill Yipene Bassole, speaking on behalf of the facilitators of the Ouagadougou agreement, told the Council meeting that the situation inside Cote d’Ivoire had eased recently, in part because of greater dialogue between the Government and the Forces Nouvelles.
The parties were no longer using their arms, there was free circulation of people and the civic service programme had started, he said.
But Mr. Bassole noted that the planned elections had been delayed and much remained to be done to ensure that the accord was fully implemented.
He called for a new timeline for the identification of voter rolls for the elections to take account of complexities that have emerged in the process, and for additional measures to reassure the public about the fairness of any polls.