The United Nations peacekeeping force in Côte d’Ivoire is to establish eight new military camps in the country’s west, where security concerns remain following the bloody post-election crisis that ended in mid-April.
Choi Young-Jin, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire, told a news conference in the country’s commercial capital, Abidjan, yesterday that the nearly 9,000-strong UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) will also rehabilitate and equip a number of municipal offices, police stations and gendarmeries that were damaged during the crisis.
He said the measures are part of efforts to assist Ivorian authorities to restore law and order so that the country can embark on a path of recovery after the violence that followed the presidential elections in November last year.
Côte d’Ivoire’s political crisis ended when former president Laurent Gbagbo finally surrendered in mid-April, ending months of violence in the wake of his refusal to step down after he lost the UN-certified presidential run-off election to Alassane Ouattara, now the country’s President.
“A clear vision related to the establishment of a national security structure has to be developed. A clear command and control structure, which would allow the effective deployment of police and gendarmerie elements across the country is necessary, which, in turn, would allow the roll-back of army elements to their military barracks,” he added.
He said funds for the mission’s new projects had already been acquired and that the work will be completed before the end of this month.
Mr. Choi, however, stressed that the new projects were only stop-gap measures to address urgent needs.
“The fundamental solution can only be provided by the Ivorian authorities deploying the police and gendarmerie throughout the country and by rolling back the army elements into their military camps,” he insisted.
He reiterated the UNOCI will continue helping to protect civilians. “We will maintain the same position, that is to say, provide security for all the protagonists, including those from the Gbagbo camp and Mr. Gbagbo himself,” he said, adding that UNOCI contributes to providing security outside the buildings where officials from the former regime are being held under house arrest.
On the forthcoming legislative elections, Mr. Choi said that they can be held before the end of the year if there is political will to complete the pre-election arrangements, including setting up the Independent Electoral Commission, tackling logistical challenges and streamlining the electoral list.