The head of United Nations operations in Côte d'Ivoire said on Sunday that he is encouraged by the start of voting in the West African nation's long-awaited presidential elections.
“It is very encouraging because everything is going peacefully and in an orderly fashion,” the Secretary-General's Special Representative, Y. J. Choi, said after touring three polling stations in the Abidjan and Sud-Comoé region.
Leading a high-level delegation composed of members of the diplomatic corps and representatives of observer missions, Mr. Choi voiced satisfaction with regard to the holding of the election, while admitting it was too early to give a definitive assessment.
“I congratulate Ivorians who have mastered their passion and emotion and have come out massively to exercise their civil right, peacefully and with discipline after having been patient for so long,” he said.
The elections, originally scheduled for as far back as 2005, were repeatedly postponed, most recently from March. They are a major step in restoring stability in the country, which was split by civil war into a Government-held south and rebel Forces Nouvelles-controlled north in 2002.
An additional 500 troops are in the country to reinforce the 8,650-strong UN peacekeeping force (UNOCI) and assist with security during the election period. A second round of voting is scheduled for 28 November if today's poll does not produce a clear winner.