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Côte d'Ivoire: Ban lauds parties for committing to peace pact

Côte d'Ivoire: Ban lauds parties for committing to peace pact

Côte d'Ivoire’s political leaders are to be commended for their commitment to a peace agreement reached last year, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today, calling on the sides to continue their efforts to cement the pact.

In a new report on the West African nation made public today, Mr. Ban welcomed the 30 November date for the presidential election, along with the Government’s adoption of decrees relating to the polls.

“These important developments mark the beginning of the electoral process in earnest,” he wrote, urging the internationally community to provide the support needed to carry out the polls.

Côte d’Ivoire became divided in 2002 between the Government-controlled south and the rebel Forces Nouvelles-held north, but last year’s Ouagadougou Agreement paved the way for an end to the conflict and included a provision calling for free and fair elections to be held. Presidential polls were to be organized as far back as 2005, but have been delayed several times since then.

Despite progress in consolidating peace, the Secretary-General warned that the country still faces “significant challenges.”

He called for the electoral process to be transparent and credible, with the parties doing their utmost to firm up the current “positive political and security climate.”

“I am therefore deeply concerned about the funding challenges facing the cantonment process, as well as the very low number of serviceable weapons surrendered to date by cantoned combatants,” the report said.

Mr. Ban also expressed concern over the ongoing lack of progress in disarming and dismantling militias.

He urged the participation of demobilized combatants in the upcoming elections, and commended the efforts of the UN country team – in collaboration with the Government – in peacebuilding.

The report also recommended that the mandate of the UN mission in Côte d’Ivoire, known as UNOCI, be extended until January 2009.

Last month, the Secretary-General announced that the country is eligible to receive funds from the UN Peacebuilding Fund, which was created two years ago to help countries emerging from conflict consolidate their gains and avoid slipping back into war.