The bureaucratic complications involved in planning and running the electoral process form the greatest obstacle to holding twice-delayed presidential elections in Côte d’Ivoire on schedule by their new date of 29 November this year, the top United Nations official to the country said today.
Y. J. Choi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN peacekeeping mission (UNOCI) to the West African country, told a Security Council meeting on Côte d’Ivoire that “these non-political impediments are not to be underestimated.”
Mr. Choi noted that the identification and registration of voters had lasted more than nine months and was only completed last month, even though it was originally planned to take six weeks.
“A public electoral timeline with detailed stages shall constitute one of the most important remedies to this chronic and pervasive problem,” he said, observing that the Ivorian electoral management body seems to be struggling with the operation of the elections.
But he said the recent unveiling of 29 November as the election date was “a very positive step,” as was the identification and voter registration operation that led to more than 6.5 million people being identified as voters.
“It should be highlighted that these historic and strategic achievements have been accomplished without a single major incident.”
Mr. Choi said the month of September could prove decisive to the overall peace process as that is the deadline for many electoral planning and reunification-related issues – such as reintegrating members of the rebel Forces Nouvelles into the army, police and gendarmerie – to be solved ahead of the presidential polls, which were supposed to be held in 2005 and then 2008.
He warned that, “given this mixed picture of worrying signs amid solid progress,” it may be necessary “to develop options [by October]… with a view to finding a way to reconcile the contradictions currently facing the Ivorian electoral and reunification process.”
Mr. Choi stressed that the Ivorian Government and the Forces Nouvelles must deliver on their commitments under the so-called Ouagadougou Political Agreement, which was signed in 2007 as part of international efforts to end the division in Côte d’Ivoire.