On the eve of the start of the electoral campaign in Côte d’Ivoire, the top United Nations official there today called on all sides to avoid any violent disruption of the long-delayed process to end the division of the West African country caused by civil war in 2002.
“I am confident that the interest and aspiration of the population to see a peaceful resolution of the crisis will continue to guide all stakeholders,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Y. J. Choi said in a message. “I am equally confident that the Ivorian people will not tolerate any act of violence disrupting the electoral process.”
Tomorrow’s campaign opening is the final step before the presidential elections, originally slated for 2005 but after repeated delays now scheduled for 31 October, followed by a second round on 28 November if there is no clear winner.
The UN peacekeeping force in Côte d’Ivoire, known as UNOCI, has already flown in hundreds of additional soldiers to reinforce its 8,650 troops already there. The mission was set up in 2004 to monitor a ceasefire and to help bring stability, including holding elections, to end the split of the world’s largest coca producer into a Government-controlled south and a rebel-held north.
UNOCI has also been distributing voter and identity cards in both the north and south and providing other logistical and technical assistance. Mr. Choi today reiterated UN readiness to continue providing “support to the Ivorian people and their leaders with a view to achieving lasting peace in their country.”