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Security Council to send more UN troops to Côte d’Ivoire ahead of upcoming polls

An UN observation post in Côte d'Ivoire
An UN observation post in Côte d'Ivoire

Security Council to send more UN troops to Côte d’Ivoire ahead of upcoming polls

The Security Council today urged parties in Côte d’Ivoire to ensure the holding of the country’s long-delayed presidential polls next month, and agreed to deploy up to 500 additional United Nations troops to assist with security during the election period.

In a statement read out to the press by Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan of Turkey, which holds the Council presidency this month, the 15-member body took note of the certification on 24 September of the final voters list of 5.7 million that was agreed on by the parties.

“The members of the Security Council urge the Ivorian stakeholders to meet their commitments to organise the first round of the elections on 31 October,” he stated.

“They further stressed the need for the parties to ensure calm prior to, during and after the vote.”

The UN mission in Côte d’Ivoire, known as UNOCI, has been providing logistical and technical assistance for the preparations for the presidential polls, which were supposed to have been held as far back as 2005 in the West African nation, which became split by civil war in 2002 into a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south.

However, the elections have been repeatedly postponed, most recently from March.

In response to a recommendation by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Council agreed to deploy up to 500 additional uniformed personnel to UNOCI for no more than six months to reinforce the mission’s capacity to contribute to the security arrangements before, during and after the elections.

Established in 2004, UNOCI is tasked with facilitating aspects of the peace process, including those related to elections, disarmament and the reunification of the country.

Today’s statement followed a closed-door briefing to the Council by Y. J. Choi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire and head of UNOCI, who told reporters that he did not think violence would be an issue since all the candidates are “committed to democratic principles.

“I am confident that the 31 October first round will take place peacefully,” he stated.

Under the country’s electoral law, a second round of voting could take place on 28 November if there is no clear winner in the first round.