Côte d’Ivoire: UN envoy voices concern about violent pre-election incidents

8 December 2011

Three days before Ivorians go to the polls to vote in crucial parliamentary elections, the top United Nations official in the West African country has expressed concern over a series of violent incidents provoked by armed men surrounding some of the candidates.

Bert Koenders, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire, called on the country’s political parties and wider population to ensure that the election is held in a peaceful environment, his spokesperson told reporters today in Abidjan.

Mr. Koenders – who is scheduled to brief Security Council members later today on the pre-election situation – stressed that Ivorians must “avoid all useless provocation and excesses which could prove prejudicial to the electoral process,” the spokesperson said.

The Special Representative, who also heads the UN peacekeeping mission (UNOCI), said that the violent incidents involving the armed men surrounding candidates were nevertheless isolated and the overall electoral campaign has been generally calm.

UNOCI has transported ballot papers, tally sheets, stocks of indelible ink and other printed materials by road and air from warehouses in both Abidjan and Yamoussoukro, the capital, to departmental electoral centres.

Materials have already been sent to Boundiali, Kouibly and Tengréla, UNOCI reported, with convoys slated to reach 14 other locations between now and Sunday.

The mission’s electoral support is being carried out with the cooperation of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Office of Project Services (UNOPS).

Since Monday, UNOCI military contingents have also transported about 6,000 Ivorian troops to various locations to ensure security for the polls.

Ivorians will vote for seats in the 225-member National Assembly, almost a year after Alassane Ouattara won a disputed presidential run-off election that led to months of deadly violence when the runner-up and incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refused to step down.

Mr. Gbagbo was later captured by security forces and has since been transported to The Hague in the Netherlands to face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of crimes against humanity for his alleged role in the post-election violence.

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