Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s new Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire, Y.J. Choi, has arrived in Abidjan with a pledge to help the people of the country solidify progress and meet the challenges posed by elections planned for 2008.
The envoy, who heads the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), made remarks at the airport to the Ivorian people. “I would like to say to them that UNOCI is here to serve them and we shall stand side by side with them until peace finally returns.”
He pledged to work impartially with all political actors and to engage civil society “which has an essential contribution to make to efforts to accelerate the resolution of the crisis.”
Mr. Choi also hailed progress achieved by the peace process. Côte d’Ivoire had been divided between the Government-controlled south and the rebel Forces Nouvelles-held north since 2002, but the leaders of the two sides signed a peace accord in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, earlier this year aimed at ending the deadlock and leading to elections by 2008.
Pointing out that “a huge task awaits us all,” the envoy urged all players involved in the search for solutions to exert all possible efforts “to make Côte d’Ivoire what it was before: the cornerstone of stability and economic prosperity in West Africa.”
Appointed in mid October, Mr. Choi succeeded outgoing envoy Pierre Schori.