Senior United Nations officials in West Africa have stressed the importance of starting the identification and registration processes for the upcoming presidential polls in Côte d’Ivoire as soon as possible, voicing concern over delays in the preparations.
The chiefs of UN peacekeeping missions in West Africa, in a two-day meeting in Guinea-Bissau that ended today, also welcomed the significant progress made in implementing the Ouagadougou Agreement, the 2007 political accord that aims to reconcile Côte d’Ivoire’s Government and the rebel Forces Nouvelles.
During their meeting, UN officials also noted the determination of Ivorian political leaders to hold the elections, slated for November, as scheduled. But they expressed concerns over the delays in the electoral process, due essentially to logistical challenges.
Y. J. Choi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire, highlighted some of the progress made so far, noting the completion of financing for the electoral process, the cantonment of the ex-combatants and the airlifting of electoral material for identification and registration by the UN mission in the country (UNOCI).
Speaking to reporters today, Mr. Choi said that there was “a light at the end of the tunnel” with regard to the Ivorian electoral process, adding that steps were being taken to ensure that the elections are held under the best possible conditions.
Participants in the meeting also discussed other developments in West Africa, and noted the advances made in the consolidation of peace and the restoration of stability in the region, particularly through UN peacekeeping missions.
At the same time, they pointed to what they termed “the persistent insecurity and democratic deficit” in most of the 16 countries in the region, according to a news release issued at the end of the meeting.
Hosted by the chief of the UN Peacebuilding Support Office in Guinea Bissau (UNOGBIS), Shola Omoregie, the meeting’s participants included the Special Representatives of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), Ellen Margrethe Løj, and the UN Office in West Africa (UNOWA), Said Djinnit. The next meeting is scheduled for 5 December in Monrovia, Liberia.