Côte d’Ivoire today appealed for increased international aid as it prepares for long-delayed elections next month, a crucial stage in United Nations-backed efforts to bring peace to a country that was split into a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south by civil war in 2002.
“Consolidating peace and security, putting in place mechanisms for economic reconstruction, promoting development – these are great post-conflict challenges which Côte d’Ivoire must confront in the immediate aftermath of the elections,” Foreign Minister Jean-Maria Kacou Gervais told the General Assembly of the polls, originally scheduled for 2005 but with the first round of the presidential contest now set for 31 October.
“My delegation wants to take this opportunity to appeal once again for support from the international community and to exhort it to increase its contribution not only for Côte d’Ivoire’s emergency from the crisis, in the final phase of the peace process but also and above all for the country’s post-crisis reconstruction.”
The Security Council today formally authorized an agreement reached yesterday to deploy up to 500 additional troops to the 8,650-strong UN peacekeeping force in Côte d’Ivoire, known as UNOCI, to assist with security during the election period. The force was established in 2004 to monitor a ceasefire between the opposing sides and to assist measures to bring stability, including the holding of elections.
Mr. Kacou Gervais pledged free, open and transparent elections that will signal the end of the crisis in the West African country, the world’s largest cocoa producer.
In a later meeting Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon assured the minister of UN support to help sustain the momentum and provide logistical and technical arrangement for the elections. He welcomed progress made in the preparations, in particular the establishment of the voter list and called for a firm commitment by all parties to ensure that the electoral process will not be derailed.
The minister devoted much of his address to the need to reform the UN to adapt to an international context that has significantly changed since it was founded 65 years ago, including enlargement of the Security Council. Other African leaders have called for two permanent and five non-permanent African members on the body, which currently has 15 members.
Reading out a litany of challenges facing the planet, from poverty and the global economic crisis to climate change, food insecurity and the need to boost agriculture in developing countries, he called on the industrialized world to translate its aid commitments into action and cited the UN as the forum most suited to tackle issues of world interest.
“In such a context, the United Nations has a decisive role to play in reinforcing the international solidarity necessary for finding effective, collective and appropriate solutions to these crises and challenges,” he said.
Neighbouring Guinea also called for full support as it prepares to hold the second round of presidential elections next month to establish a democratic government after decades of dictatorships and coups.
“From this podium I launch an urgent appeal to the African and international community to continue its support to Guinea for the consolidation of peace, stability and security in the sub-region,” Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Bakary Fofana said.
He also called on the industrialized world to fulfil its commitments to poorer countries with funds, technology transfers and strengthened capacity to confront climate change and said a profound reform of the UN to make it more democratic, representative and transparent was an “urgent necessity.”