The campaign for Côte d’Ivoire’s much-delayed presidential elections has started calmly despite passions inherent in such a poll, which is intended to end the division of the West African country caused by civil war in 2002, the top United Nations official there reported.
“We are happy to have virtually completed the major and sensitive challenge of delivering [identity and voter] cards,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Young-jin Choi said yesterday after meeting with the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission in Abidjan, the largest city.
The elections were first meant to have taken place in 2005 but after repeated delays are 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 cocoa producer into a Government-controlled south and a rebel-held north.
On the eve of the start of the campaign last week, Mr. Choi called on all sides to avoid any violent disruption. “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,” he said.