Calling it “significant progress” toward the much-delayed elections in Côte d’Ivoire, the United Nations mission there today announced that the number of voters identified so far in the West African nation has surpassed 5.4 million.
The Mission “urges all parties involved in the identification and registration process to redouble their efforts to maintain the momentum,” Hamadoun Touré, spokesperson for the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), told reporters in Abidjan.
Mr. Touré encouraged further efforts to deploy the number of teams necessary 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.
The number of open registration sites has passed the 10,000 mark, but there remained nearly 870 centres that had not yet opened, representing 8 per cent of the centres initially planned, he said.
For its part, he said, UNOCI would continue its logistical assistance for the identification and registration, with support for the last localities not yet covered by technical identification teams.
In January, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Côte d'Ivoire and head of UNOCI, Y. J. Choi, told the UN Security Council that the Ivorian parties agreed that the holding of 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 after Mr. Choi’s briefing, 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.