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Final electoral list immediate priority for Côte d’Ivoire, says UN envoy

Final electoral list immediate priority for Côte d’Ivoire, says UN envoy

Launch of identification and voter registration operations for presidential polls in Côte d’Ivoire
The United Nations envoy in Côte d’Ivoire has urged a new impetus for the country’s electoral process and reunification efforts to overcome the ongoing political impasse and make progress towards the holding of the long-delayed presidential polls.

The objective in the immediate future is to concentrate on the production of the definitive electoral list, Y. J. Choi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said in Abidjan on Wednesday following a meeting with the head of the Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire, Henri Konan Bédié.

He stressed that this was imperative to maintain peace and stability in Côte d’Ivoire, which became split by civil war in 2002 into a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south.

The West African nation was making progress toward the holding of elections – which were supposed to have been held as far back as 2005 but have been repeatedly postponed – with the publication of the provisional electoral list throughout the country, the launch of the appeals process, and the validation of all major candidates for the presidential election.

However, the political impasse began in early January after the production of the second electoral list. Political tensions began to mount after voter registration was suspended due to violence and President Laurent Gbagbo dissolved the Government and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in February.

“There should never be a repetition of the violence that happened in February,” said Mr. Choi.

A new Government and Electoral Commission have been established since then, but the electoral process remains stalled owing to differences on how to address the issue of fraud and resume the interrupted appeals process on the provisional voters list.

Mr. Choi briefed Mr. Bédié on the discussions he had in New York with the Security Council last week, adding “we expressed our concerns over the Ivorian situation.”

In his briefing to the Council, the Special Representative said the ongoing political impasse in Côte d'Ivoire contributes to heightened tensions and hampers efforts to normalize the situation in the country, which has been trying for eight years to overcome the crisis that split the country.

Mr. Choi said he intends to meet President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, the Facilitator of the Ouagadougou Political Agreement – the 2007 blueprint for political reconciliation in Côte d'Ivoire that was forged in the Burkinabè capital – to assess the crisis-resolution process.