Calm political, security climate bodes well for Côte d’Ivoire polls, Ban says

28 October 2010

The current security and political calm bodes well for this weekend’s long-awaited presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report, underlining the need for the polls to take place as scheduled.

The current security and political calm bodes well for this weekend’s long-awaited presidential election in Côte d’Ivoire, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says in a new report, underlining the need for the polls to take place as scheduled.

The elections, originally scheduled for as far back as 2005 and repeatedly postponed, constitute a major step in restoring stability after civil war split the West African nation into a Government-held south and a northern area dominated by the rebel Forces Nouvelles in 2002.

The polls are now slated to be held on 31 October, followed by a second round on 28 November if there is no clear winner.

In the report made public today, Mr. Ban writes that that the “positive and calm political and security climate engendered by the Ouagadougou Political Agreement [the 2007 blueprint for political reconciliation] and the spirit of compromise and consensus that has brought Côte d’Ivoire thus far are encouraging and bode well for the elections.”

He calls the establishment of a final voters list a “major breakthrough” in the country’s peace process. “It not only makes the holding of elections possible, but it will also allow millions of Ivorians to receive identity cards, thus addressing the identification issue, which has been at the centre of the Ivorian crisis.”

But he voices concern over reports that militia groups are threatening to disrupt the electoral process, pledging the support of the UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNOCI, to put the necessary security arrangements into place and prevent the undermining of the polls.

The mission, set up in 2004 to monitor a ceasefire and to help bring stability to Côte d’Ivoire, has flown in hundreds of additional soldiers to reinforce its 8,650 troops already there.

Y. J. Choi, Mr. Ban’s Special Representative, told reporters in Côte d’Ivoire’s largest city, Abidjan, today that the polls will be held on Sunday, thanks to a strong electoral dynamic.

With 72 hours left before the polls, he voiced confidence that the process will go smoothly, noting that measures have been taken to resolve logistical challenges such as those related to the distribution of identification cards. He added that the recruitment and deployment of 60,000 electoral officers is continuing.

To date, the IEC and the UN have transported nearly 12 million cards to nearly all of the polling stations, with the final phase of delivering all sensitive materials, including ballot papers and report forms, beginning tomorrow.

The Special Representative said that he is convinced that voting will be peaceful and orderly, with the IEC, supported by national and international observers, ensuring that the elections are credible.

“There is no doubt that all the parties and the candidates will accept the proclaimed and certified results,” the official said.

He also emphasized that the counting of votes will be transparent. “Everyone agrees that the manual counting will be done in each polling station and it is up to the IEC to decide on the means of electronic transmission from the local commissions to Abidjan…

“All the parties will be present and the tabulation will also be done with total transparency,” he stressed.

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