Preparations for the much-delayed elections in Côte d’Ivoire is making headway, the United Nations mission there said today, announcing that the number of voters identified so far in the West African nation has surpassed the four million mark.
“This is an important step, particularly given the delays and difficulties that beset the identification and census that are currently taking place,” Hamadoun Touré, spokesperson for the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), told reporters in Abidjan.
Mr. Touré encouraged further efforts to deploy teams to identify more people around the country, which has been divided since 2002 between the Government-held south and a northern area dominated by the rebel Forces Nouvelles.
In that regard, he said UNOCI would strengthen its logistical support through special operations that began on Tuesday by air and river and to the interior of the country. The Operation is also supporting the identification process with over 200 vehicles. “The goal is to help the national structures to attain an optimal enrolment of the target population,” said Mr. Touré.
Meanwhile, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Côte d'Ivoire and head of UNOCI, Y. J. Choi, is continuing his contacts with the Ivorian political leaders.
Last week, Mr. Choi told the Security Council in New York that the Ivorian parties agreed that the holding of the elections, last scheduled for 30 November 2008, would now await the completion of the identification process and the disarmament of ex-combatants.
In a resolution adopted this week, the Council urged all political actors in Côte d’Ivoire to agree as soon as possible on a “realistic” time frame for the polls, as it extended UNOCI’s mandate for another six months.