New UN envoy to Côte d’Ivoire urges leaders, citizens to commit to peace and stability

24 October 2011

The new United Nations envoy to Côte d’Ivoire today urged political leaders and all Ivorians to commit to work together to ensure stability and national unity, saying he would do his utmost to support the process of reconciliation.

“The people of Côte d’Ivoire have chosen a new path and it is now essential for all Ivorians to work towards the restoration of national unity and reconciliation,” said Bert Koenders, the new Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire, after arriving in the city of Abidjan.

Mr. Koenders stressed that under his leadership the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) would work with the Ivorian people to improve security and stability, adding that part of this would take the form of assisting the country in organizing democratic and inclusive legislative elections.

A post-electoral crisis erupted in Côte d’Ivoire when former president Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down after he lost the UN-certified election to Alassane Ouattara, who was eventually sworn in after Mr. Gbagbo surrendered in April.

Mr. Koenders congratulated Ivorians on the progress they had accomplished since then, and reiterated UNOCI’s support for all segments of society to help them during this process of reconciliation and reconstruction.

“I want the Ivorian people to know that I am here to serve them,” he said, adding that job opportunities for young people and children would be a priority on his agenda. He also promised to provide support to ensure that justice and respect of human rights prevail in the country.

“We are not here to preach, but to provide assistance and security. Nothing more, but nothing less,” he said.

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