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Ban Ki-moon encourages Ivorians to continue making headway in peace process

Ban Ki-moon encourages Ivorians to continue making headway in peace process

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with Prime Minister Guillaume Soro (Left) and  President Laurent Gbagbo
Saying that they have reached a “point of no return,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today encouraged all the main political actors in Côte d’Ivoire to continue making progress in the West African nation’s peace process, as he wrapped up a regional tour that also took him to Burkina Faso, Liberia and Ghana.

Earlier today, Mr. Ban held meetings with the Ivorian Foreign Minister, political party leaders, civil society representatives and the President of the Independent Electoral Commission. He later observed the work being done by the UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNOCI.

In comments to the press made today at the mission’s Abidjan headquarters, Mr. Ban said that “it is the shared resolve to move forward, of Ivorian stakeholders, notably President [Laurent] Gbagbo, Prime Minister [Guillaume] Soro, political parties and Ivorians countrywide, that has made it possible to reach this point.”

Calling it a “point of no return,” he urged all political leaders and followers to honour the Code of Good Conduct for the upcoming elections which was signed in his presence yesterday.

After being delayed several times, the presidential polls – which were to be held as far back as 2005 – are now slated for 30 November.

The holding of free and fair elections is one of the provisions of last year’s Ouagadougou Peace Agreement, which paved the way for an end to the conflict between the Government-controlled south and the rebel Forces Nouvelles-held north.

Earlier this month, almost half a million Ivorians received new birth certificates, the first step in a process to enable them to vote in the elections.

“We all know however that considerable challenges remain to be addressed,” the Secretary-General said. “The road to the elections, to sustainable peace and reconciliation, may be treacherous and we should be vigilant.”

Yesterday, Mr. Ban met separately with Prime Minister Guillaume Soro and President Laurent Gbagbo. He told reporters he had encouraged the Prime Minister to continue with his efforts to maintain the peace process in collaboration with the President and the other political actors.

Following his meeting with President Gbagbo, the Secretary-General said that he was encouraged that the Côte d’Ivoire Government has cleared all arrears with the World Bank and regained the trust and confidence of international financial institutions.

In addition, Mr. Ban signed an agreement with the Prime Minister and the donor community, in which donors pledged 27 million Euros towards the next phase of the peace process.

The Secretary-General now heads to Vienna, the first stop on a weeklong European visit during which he will also travel to Switzerland and the United Kingdom.