26/04/2005
Press Release
SC/8367


Security Council

5169th Meeting (AM)


SECURITY COUNCIL BRIEFED ON MEDIATION EFFORT IN CÔTE D’IVOIRE PEACE PROCESS;

 

TOLD UN MISSION NEEDS STRENGTHENED MANDATE TO TAKE ON ADDITIONAL TASKS

 


South Africa’s Deputy Foreign Minister Describes Pretoria

Agreement, Signed by Parties at Meeting Hosted by President Thabo Mbeki


South Africa’s Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs briefed the Security Council today on the latest developments in the Côte d’Ivoire peace process and said that the requests by the Ivorian leadership for greater United Nations assistance could only be achieved if the Organization acted decisively to adjust the mandate of the United Nations Operation there.


Aziz Pahad told the Council that such an adjustment would enable the UN mission to, among other things:  cater to an election supervision mechanism; help with policing in the North; provide funding for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process; and increase the mission’s capacity to meet the additional tasks emanating from the Pretoria Agreement signed in the South African capital earlier this month.


Mr Pahad added that the country’s leadership had requested the establishment of an impartial United Nations structure to assist the Independent Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Council in the discharge of their functions during the entire period of elections, now scheduled for 31 October.  It would also help to streamline the issuing of nationality documents and identity cards, as well as assist in planning for the elections.  Regarding security, the Ivorian leaders had asked that the Security Council consider deploying a special force under the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) to protect cantonment sites for demobilized Force nouvelles troops; and recruit, train and deploy a 600-strong police contingent in the North in order to avoid a security vacuum once the Forces nouvelles moved into the cantonment areas.  United Nations assistance was also needed to disarm militia.


He said the recent Agreement had resulted from a three-day mediation meeting of Ivorian leaders hosted by President Thabo Mbeki.  That Agreement had been presented to the Council.  Beginning on 3 April, the meeting had addressed key areas, including:  the joint declaration of an immediate and final cessation of all hostilities; the disarmament and dismantling of militia throughout the country; the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the armed formations, leading to the creation of one national army; acceptance of a plan for the security of Forces nouvelles ministers in the Government of National Reconciliation; commitment to amend the composition, organization and function of the Independent Electoral Commission to ensure free, fair and transparent elections by 31 October 2005; an agreement that radio and television programming should cover the entire territory of Côte d’Ivoire; and finalization of the adoption of article 35 of the Ivorian Constitution regarding eligibility to run for the presidency.


The representative of the United Republic of Tanzania also supported the recommended extension of UNOCI’s mandate for a period of 12 months following the current technical rollover.  That would not only help to guarantee a smooth implementation of the transition, but also to stabilize the country in the immediate post-conflict period and lay the foundation for post-conflict peacebuilding and reconstruction.  Now that the Pretoria meeting had succeeded in putting the peace process back on track, there was a need to revisit and consider favourably the Secretary-General’s earlier recommendations that the Council approve the additional military, civilian police and civilian resources proposed in his third report on UNOCI.  Adequate security was essential between now and the elections, both for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, and for enhancing public security.


Denmark’s representative, expressing support for an appropriate strengthening of UNOCI and an extension of its presence, said it was also imperative that the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as well as other key regional and national actors, continue to stay involved and, together with the United Nations, develop a sound division of labour.  Such developments as ethnic violence in western Côte d’Ivoire, the transfer of arms and nomadic mercenaries, including children, required that UNOCI continue to cooperate with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).  In addition, the arms embargo on Côte d’Ivoire must be effectively implemented.


Simeon Adekanye (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the Chairman of the African Union, President Olusegun Obasanjo, also called on the Council to expand UNOCI’s mandate so that peacekeepers could actualize commitments undertaken by the parties under the Pretoria Agreement.  The Council should also support African Union efforts in Côte d’Ivoire.  While the Pretoria Agreement addressed the gaps in earlier peace accords, concrete actions were needed to reinforce it.  Ivorian party leaders must display practical leadership qualities, including the political will to accommodate dissension, and show readiness to make sacrifices for the common good.  A well funded disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme would wean the population away from violence and facilitate reintegration into the political mainstream.


Adamantios Vassilakis (Greece) who chairs the Council committee overseeing its arms embargo on Côte d’Ivoire, reminded all States of their obligation to report to the Committee established to monitor the arms embargo imposed by resolutions 1572 (2004) and 1584 (2005).  The panel of experts appointed on
18 April was ready to leave for West Africa, and parties in Côte d’Ivoire, as well as other countries in the subregion, were expected to cooperate with them.


The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 12:10 p.m.


Background


The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Côte d’Ivoire and to hear a briefing on that country’s peace process by the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of South Africa.


Briefing by South African Deputy Foreign Minister


AZIZ PAHAD, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs of South Africa, reported that the 3 April 2005 mediation meeting of Ivorian leaders hosted in Pretoria by President Thabo Mbeki had been attended by President Laurent Gbagbo, former President Henri Konan Bedié, former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara, Prime Minister Seydou Diarra, and Guillaume Soro, Secretary-General of the Forces nouvelles.  The three-day meeting had resulted in the Pretoria Agreement, which the mediator had presented to the Security Council.


He said the meeting had addressed key areas, including:  the joint declaration of the end of war, in which the Ivorian signatories to the Agreement declared their immediate and final cessation of all hostilities; the disarmament and dismantling of militia throughout the country; the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the armed formations leading to the creation of one army for the whole country; ensuring security for the Forces nouvelles; acceptance of a plan for the security of Forces nouvelles ministers in the Government of National Reconciliation; commitment by the signatories to make amendments to the composition, organization and function of the Independent Electoral Commission to ensure free, fair and transparent elections by 31 October 2005; the importance of the role of the media, including an agreement that radio and television programming should cover the entire territory of Côte d’Ivoire; and finalization of the adoption of article 35 of the Ivorian Constitution.


The essence of the mediator’s determination on article 35, he said, was that President Gbagbo would, after consulting with the President of the National Assembly and the Constitutional Council, use article 48 of the Constitution, which would allow the Constitutional Council to accept the eligibility of candidates who would be presented by political parties that were signatories to the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement.  President Gbagbo had undertaken a series of consultations with, among others, youth and women’s groups, traditional chiefs, Members of Parliament and the military with a view to discussing the Pretoria Agreement and President Mbeki’s determination.  That process had provided a platform for the airing of different views, and the central message from the various groups was that President Gbagbo should, in the interest of peace, use article 48 to effect the constitutional amendment, as determined by the mediator.


He said that the chiefs of staff of the Ivorian Armed Forces (FANCI) and the Forces nouvelles armed forces (FAFN) had met on 14 April, at the end of which a communiqué had been issued endorsing the Pretoria decision to renew contact between the two sides, the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the frontline and the setting of 15 May as the date for the start of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.  The chiefs of staff had held several meetings to work out modalities for the implementation of commitments made in Bouaké and the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme had started with the removal of heavy weapons from the frontline with effect from 21 April.  That development, which symbolized the beginning of the country’s integration, had enjoyed widespread support from the population and generated new confidence in the peace process.  In addition, the South African Defence Force had invited the Ivorian chiefs of staff to share its own experience in the integration of armed forces.  The Ivorian chiefs of staff had arrived in Pretoria this morning.


Regarding legislative amendments, he said the Council of Ministers had started deliberations on the necessary amendments to ensure that laws passed complied with the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement and with the mediator’s determination.  With respect to the participation of Forces nouvelles ministers in the Government of National Reconciliation, an increasing number of ministers had returned to Abidjan to assume their responsibilities.  The specialized unit of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), in conjunction with the mediation, was working out additional measures to ensure Mr. Soro’s return to Abidjan, where he would take up his ministerial responsibilities.  In an attempt to contribute to the resumption of a functioning Government of National Reconciliation, the mediation had undertaken to train a close protection force for all Forces nouvelles ministers.  That training would take place in South Africa over a period of six weeks starting from 2 May.  The programme would also be open to protectors from the South, totalling approximately 135 personnel, and UNOCI should work out modalities to complement that effort.


On the role of the media, he said they had toned down their negative reporting and started broadcasting positive reports on the Pretoria Agreement and its implementation.  It was hoped that the situation would further improve once the amendments envisaged in the Pretoria Agreement had been completed.  Efforts were being made to procure technical equipment to upgrade systems and ensure coverage of the entire country by RTI (Ivorian radio and television).


The Ivorian leadership had asked the mediator to request the United Nations to establish an impartial structure that would assist them during the entire election period, he said.  That structure would assist the Ivorian Independent Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Council in the discharge of their functions without being a part of the two structures.  In the context of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement, the impartial United Nations structure would also assist in the process to streamline the issuing of nationality documents and identity cards.  It would be empowered to assist both in the formulation and execution of policies and plan for the elections.  The structure would be set up immediately and be required to intervene with the relevant Ivorian authorities, where necessary.


Regarding security, he said the Ivorian leaders had asked for assistance in three areas.  First, it would be necessary to protect the Forces nouvelles cantonment sites.  The Security Council would need to consider deploying a special force under UNOCI to carry out that function.  Its presence would contribute to the building of confidence in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process that was crucial to a peaceful transition.  Second, the Ivorians had requested assistance in the recruitment, training and deployment of a 600-strong police contingent in the North in order to avoid a security vacuum once the Forces nouvelles moved its forces into cantonment areas.  It was envisaged that the new recruits would be trained and mentored by UNOCI and serve under the guidance of United Nations forces.  Once normal policing had been reinstated in the North, the recruits would go back to the police and gendarmerie academy for further training.  Third, United Nations assistance was sought with regard to disarmament of the militias.  The Organization had the necessary expertise to assist the Prime Minister in carrying out that objective.


He said that the outcome of all those requests could only be achieved if the United Nations and the international community were ready to act decisively and urgently by:  adjusting UNOCI’s mandate to cater to the election supervision mechanism and to support the disarmament of the militia; increasing the mission’s capacity to meet the additional tasks emanating from the Pretoria Agreement; participating actively in the policing functions in the North during the interim period; and providing adequate and immediate funding for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process.


Briefing by Representative of African Union


SIMEON ADEKANYE (Nigeria), speaking on behalf of the African Union, said the Pretoria Agreement had addressed the gaps of earlier ones, but concrete actions were needed to reinforce it.  First, leaders of the parties to the conflict must go beyond merely appending their signatures to the document.  They must display practical leadership qualities, including the political will to accommodate dissension, and show a readiness to make sacrifices for the common good.  The long-suffering people of Côte d’Ivoire must no longer be made to suffer from political differences among the parties.  The Pretoria Agreement offered the Ivorian leadership a chance to demonstrate their oft-repeated commitment to ensure faithful implementation of its provisions.  The leadership should also mobilize support at the grass-roots level for those peace efforts.


He stressed that the United Nations presence in Côte d’Ivoire should be strengthened, so that it was visible throughout the length and breadth of the country.  That would bolster confidence and trust in the parties, and enhance public perception in the impartiality and effectiveness of the United Nations forces.


A well funded disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme would wean the population away from violence and facilitate reintegration into the political mainstream of Ivorian life, he said.  Côte d’Ivoire would continue to require support from the international community to ensure success of the agreement, and African countries were determined to coordinate such support.  He called on the Council to support the efforts of the African Union on Côte d’Ivoire by endorsing the Pretoria Agreement, as well as the ruling on article 35 of the Ivorian Constitution.  The Council should also expand the current mandate of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) so that peacekeepers could actualize commitments undertaken by the parties under the Agreement.  That would mean commitments of additional resources and logistics of a magnitude that the situation on the ground required.


Statements


JEAN-MARC DE LA SABLIERE (France) recalled that on 28 March he had indicated the reasons why the situation in Côte d’Ivoire was of concern to his country.  Today, there was a note of hope, opened up by the Pretoria meeting, which had given another chance to the Ivorian peace and reconciliation process.  France welcomed President Mbeki’s efforts and crucial personal commitment, and was pleased with the key role that he had played and would continue to play in helping the Ivorian parties out of the dangerous impasse in which they found themselves.  The Pretoria Agreement complemented previous accords and stipulated key points in the reconciliation process, including that relating to legislative amendment.  The Ivorian road map to peace was clear and totally unambiguous and, henceforth, everything would depend on effective implementation.


He said a meeting between the chiefs of staff on the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process had been encouraging, and it was hoped that dialogue would continue on cantonment and disarmament.  The withdrawal of heavy weapons from the frontline was tangible progress, given the situation that had existed just two months ago.  France emphasized the Security Council must do its utmost to support President Mbeki’s efforts and help the Ivorian parties to succeed.  It must continue to follow closely the Pretoria commitments and ensure that they were respected.  In addition, the Council should renew the mandate of the impartial forces, and France would be tabling a resolution on that matter this week.  It was also essential to give UNOCI all the necessary means to ensure the success of its mission.  Strengthening it should allow the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, as well as the elections, to go forward.


EMYR JONES PARRY (United Kingdom) said a recommendation was now needed by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations to meet the requirements in Côte d’Ivoire, as well as a time scale for deployment.  On disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, he welcomed 15 May as its date of commencement, noting that the process was a key factor in peacebuilding and crucial to implementation of the Pretoria Agreement.  As for elections, they should be held as soon as practically possible, with all eligible individuals allowed as candidates.  The United Nations should lay down benchmarks to measure progress in the electoral process.  The Secretariat should establish an impartial structure to assist during the entire electoral period.


The international community should move forward on sanctions, but they were not a priority, he said.  Peacekeeping must lead to a comprehensive peacebuilding strategy, gradually replaced by Ivorian policing and active involvement.  The peace process also required an exit strategy for the United Nations.


JOEL ADECHI (Benin) said the Pretoria Agreement covered all aspects of the Ivorian crisis and it was pleasing that it had forged consensus on delicate and fundamental problems such as disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, the composition and membership of the Independent Electoral Commission and the organization of elections.  Political will was evident in the parties’ agreement to abide by the mediations determination.  Benin called for a higher sense of responsibility with regard to the issue of amending article 35.


He said that, given that situation in Côte d’Ivoire, the Council must renew the international community’s commitment to accompany the Ivorian parties to the end of their journey.  The United Nations must make a contribution by helping to establish a national police force, supporting the elections and helping with the disarmament and dismantling of the militia.  From Benin’s standpoint, such a commitment would be important for building trust among the parties.  It was also necessary to revisit the mandate of UNOCI and to examine ways to give it enough resources and means so that it could carry out its tasks.


The arbitration required in the preparatory process for the elections was extremely delicate, and it was important to help the Ivorian parties rebuild the confidence they had lost, he said.  Proper preparations were important, so that the elections could be held by 31 October.  The resolution to the Ivorian crisis was near and it was up to the mediator, but especially up to the Ivorian parties, to show that they had faith in the future of their country.


ABDALLAH BAALI (Algeria), noting that the Pretoria Agreement had opened up promising prospects for peace, stressed that the international community must do everything necessary to bring it to a prompt conclusion.  The parties assumed the major responsibility, but the international community’s role was just as vital.  One serious challenge of the follow-up was maintaining confidence in the process and ensuring that each party lived up to their responsibilities.  As for the elections, legislative harmonization in the country was needed, so that elections could be held under the proper conditions.


The international community must support mediation in areas it had agreed to in follow-up of the Agreement, he said.  It must act as an arbiter and firmly support any decision along those lines.  The path would be arduous and strewn with obstacles, but those would be easier to overcome if the parties were assured that they had the support of the international community.  Disarmament, social reintegration and restructuring of the armed forces would require expertise and considerable resources.  The upcoming elections must take place on the scheduled date and under proper conditions.


SHINICHI KITAOKA (Japan) said it was critical to ensure full and prompt implementation of all commitments made in the Pretoria Agreement.  All Ivorian parties should faithfully respect those agreements, including the decision by President Mbeki on eligibility for the presidency.  As for sanctions, now was not the time to immediately apply targeted sanctions, since the Ivorian parties had shown their readiness through the Agreement to revitalize the peace process.  However, no further delay could be permitted in preparations for the October elections.  All Ivorian parties must recognize that any delay in implementing the Agreement would render them immediately subject to sanctions.


Conditions had continued to be precarious and at times volatile in the country, he said.  Serious deliberation on a certain level of reinforcement to peacekeeping forces was needed, and his Government was ready to consider such reinforcement.  However, the Ivorian parties must recognize that better use could have been made of the additional reinforcement cost of $30 million, $6 million of which had been borne by Japan, for the reconstruction and development of their country.


GHEORGHE DUMITRU (Romania) said the Pretoria Agreement charted the course towards restored peace, giving a glimmer of hope in the Ivorian peace process.  Priorities for the future were the immediate launch of successful disarmament, including that of the militia, and preparations for the October elections.  Given the new dynamic launched by the Pretoria Agreement, all outstanding problems must also be resolved.


He said that after two years of repeated failure by the parties to fulfil their commitment, it was now clear that the gulf of mistrust between the parties could not be bridged at a single stroke.  The reconciliation process would be difficult and protracted, and the international community must remain vigilant to ensure that the military option was renounced entirely.


The latest developments had a direct and immediate effect on the situation of UNOCI, he said.  Given the election timetable and the upcoming disarmament, demobilization and reintegration launch, the mission’s responsibilities would increase and Romania looked forward to a proposal from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations for changes in its means and mandate.  Any approach must take into account the possibility of violence.  Proper preparation of the elections would be crucial, as would international assistance, including an increased role for the United Nations.  In addition, the participation or involvement of the Security Council and the African Union were extremely important.


CESAR MAYORAL (Argentina) said the Pretoria Agreement had demonstrated the usefulness of cooperation between the Council and the African Union, as well as subregional organizations.  The fact that the parties had reaffirmed their commitments to all United Nations resolutions would, he hoped, lead to genuine resolve in fulfilling those obligations.  Every possible incentive must be offered to comply with the provisions of the Agreement, but adjustments were needed to UNOCI’s mandate, so that it could monitor elections and support the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process.  The time had come for the citizens of Côte d’Ivoire to act responsibly in building peace and placing themselves on the path to development.


PAULO ROBERTO CAMPOS TARISSE DA FONTOURA (Brazil), noting the encouraging developments, said the parties must act expeditiously to allow the participation of all candidates in the October elections.  With respect to the amendment of article 35, Brazil would welcome the inclusion of all candidates for President.


He expressed satisfaction with developments on the ground, including the reconvening of cabinet meetings with full participation by Forces nouvelles ministers.  On the military front, Brazil welcomed the beginning of the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the frontline as an important step.  Finally, the Ivorian people and political parties were on the right path to peace and sustainable development, and the Security Council must continue to support them to that end.


ALEXANDER KONUZIN (Russian Federation) said Côte d’Ivoire’s main objectives now were to resolve the question of article 35 of its Constitution and launch the disarmament process, to eliminate the conflict and organize the October elections.  Everything must be done to hold the elections on time, since any deferral could have negative consequences.  Côte d’Ivoire would be assisted by UNOCI and the French forces supporting it, as well as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), in its further peace efforts.  However, the major responsibility for settling the current crisis lay with the Ivorian parties themselves.


ELLEN MARGRETHE LØJ (Denmark) welcomed the steps already taken by the Ivorian parties, including the revival of the Government of National Reconciliation and the removal of heavy weapons from the frontline.  However, the details of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process were yet to be worked out and the legal foundation for the holding of free and fair elections had not yet been fully established.  Denmark urged the Ivorian parties to implement the peace agreements without delay, including the decision taken by the mediator on the issue of eligibility to run for the presidency.  The schedule was compressed and no more time could be wasted before the election.


For the international community, there was now a peace to keep, she said, noting that the Pretoria Agreement called for greater involvement by the United Nations in various aspects of the peace process.  Denmark fully supported such an enhanced involvement and would work to ensure the necessary resources to that end, in the belief that the nascent optimism for the peace process would be sustained.   Denmark also supported an appropriate strengthening of UNOCI and an extension of its presence.  At the same time, it was imperative that the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as well as other key regional and national actors, continue to stay involved and, together with the United Nations, develop a sound division of labour.


She pointed out, however, that there were still developments that gave rise to concern, especially ethnic violence in the west of Côte d’Ivoire, where ethnically motivated violence seemed to continue unabated.  The transfer of arms and nomadic mercenaries, including children, appeared to continue on the borders with neighbouring countries, especially Liberia.  Those developments demanded immediate attention by the Government of National Reconciliation and, Denmark urged UNOCI to continue to cooperate with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) on those matters.  In addition, the arms embargo must be effectively implemented and any failure to implement the peace agreements should be met instantly with determined measures.  Denmark also called for an end to impunity.


ADAMANTIOS VASSILAKIS (Greece) noted that the political leaders in Pretoria had agreed to refrain from any military actions and engage in a political dialogue that could put an end to the long-standing conflict.  They also agreed to ensure the implementation of the national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration plan, and proceed immediately with the disarmament and dismantling of the militia throughout the entire territory.  The meeting between military commanders of both sides and the agreement reached in Bouaké on a provisional timetable for disarmament was a first step in that direction.  As for article 35 of Côte d’Ivoire’s Constitution, that issue must be speedily resolved, while honouring the commitment made by signatories of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement.


He reminded all States concerned of their obligation to report to the Committee established to monitor the arms embargo imposed by resolutions 1572 (2004) and 1584 (2005). Speaking as Chairman of the Committee established pursuant to resolution 1572, he said that the panel of experts of resolution 1584 had been appointed on 18 April.  Adding that they were ready to leave for the area, he urged parties in Côte d’Ivoire and countries of the region to cooperate with the experts, so that they could perform their mandate.


AUGUSTINE MAHIGA (United Republic of Tanzania) said that getting a firm commitment from the Ivorian parties to live up to what they had agreed upon was the best chance for ending the conflict in their country.  The positive developments that had taken place in the last week were encouraging, beginning with the assumption by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative of his functions in Abidjan.  The second was the rejoining by the opposition of the Government of National Reconciliation, and the third was the positive outcome of the Bouaké meeting between the Government and Forces nouvelles chiefs of staff, who had agreed on a timetable for implementing the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme.


Equally significant was the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the Zone of Confidence, as the initial stage of implementing the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, he said.  It was to be hoped that the process would begin in earnest on 14 May, as scheduled.  It was of vital importance that the signatories to the Pretoria Agreement commit to the timetable for that process, since it was only through its successful implementation that the country could be reunified and make the holding of the October elections possible.  To give peace a chance, it was important that all the parties make their positions known on President Mbeki’s determination with respect to article 35.  The leadership of all the parties must be encouraged to instil a sense of confidence among their followers, in order to create an environment conducive to elections.  The media, in particular, were urged to support the recent peace accomplishments and to sustain their current positive tone.


Now that the Pretoria meeting had succeeded in putting the peace process back on track, he said, there was a need to revisit and consider favourably the Secretary-General’s earlier recommendations that the Council approve the additional military, civilian police and civilian resources proposed in his third report on UNOCI (document S/2004/962).  Adequate security between now and the scheduled October elections was critical, both for the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process and for enhancing public security.  Tanzania also supported the recommendation for the extension of UNOCI’s mandate for a period of 12 months following the current technical rollover.  That would not only help to guarantee a smooth implementation of the transition, but also to stabilize the country in the immediate post-conflict period and lay the foundation for post-conflict peacebuilding and reconstruction.


REED FENDRICK (United States) said the parties to the Ivorian conflict had made serious commitments to advance the peace process, which must now be fulfilled.  A real cessation of violence was vital for the Pretoria Agreement to succeed.  The parties had made an important political statement when they agreed to end hostilities, but committed action on the ground was vital.  He urged the Ivorian Government and the Forces nouvelles to finalize plans for the country’s disarmament, demobilization and reintegration.


He was pleased that two ministers from the Forces nouvelles had rejoined the Government.  Now the Government must make legislative amendment to the country’s Constitution, so that the county could prepare and hold elections.  He looked forward to the draft decree on the appointment of members to the Radio and Television Board.


BAYANI MERCADO (Philippines) said the situation continued to be challenging, and noted that mediation efforts faced their fair share of stumbling blocks.  However, President Mbeki had persevered and it was to be hoped that the Ivorian parties would show their commitment to implementing their obligations.


Stressing that there could be no military solution to the conflict in Côte d’Ivoire, he said the Philippines was encouraged by the agreement on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, starting with the withdrawal of heavy weapons from he frontline.  There should be no more recruitment of fighters, particularly from neighbouring States.  Trust between the parties must be established and sacrifices must be made.  It was hoped that the amendment of article 35 would be made in a statesmanlike manner, taking into account the lessons of history.  The Philippines supported a revisiting of UNOCI’s mandate and looked forward to a report from the Department of Peacekeeping Operations on how that could be accomplished.


Council President WANG GUANGYA (China), speaking in his national capacity, said he was pleased that Ivorian Government forces and the Forces nouvelles had reached agreement on the withdrawal of heavy weapons, and that South African President Mbeki had made important decisions on presidential candidates.  As long as the concerned parties acted in good faith, prospects for a successful conclusion to the peace process were bright.  However, further progress would need continued assistance from the international community.  China would work with other Council members in continuing to deliberate on the extension and expansion of UNOCI.


PHILIPPE DJANGONE-BI (Côte d’Ivoire) said that analysis of the Pretoria Agreement should convince the international community that President Mbeki of South Africa had achieved a result that had seemed impossible several days earlier.  The Agreement did not lend itself to partisan interpretation, or place obstacles in the path to peace and reconciliation, which would be achieved through the unanimous resolve of Ivorians, with the renewed support of the African Union and the subregion.


He said the Ivorian security forces and Forces nouvelles had combined to relaunch the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process, which had been suspended some months earlier.  Heavy weapons had been withdrawn, and Force nouvelles ministers had returned to the Government.  Reform of the security sector was one of the multidimensional and protracted processes of the peacebuilding period.  Close cooperation was needed between Côte d’Ivoire and the international community, with both sides committing themselves to concerted actions.  Events in the coming days and weeks would test the irreversible commitment of Côte d’Ivoire’s people and the Government to work for peace and stability in the subregion.  However, the country would still need the support of donors, the United Nations and the Security Council, especially for the October elections.


Mr. PAHAD, South Africa’s Deputy Foreign Minister, thanked the Council for its consistent support for his country’s efforts and the African Union Chairman, President Obasanjo, for supporting the mediation.  It was clear that collective efforts had ensured progress, but many challenges remained.


Noting that Côte d’Ivoire was strategically situated, he said that a positive result there would have a positive impact on the whole subregion, as well as on other countries emerging from conflict, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and the SudanSouth Africa was emboldened by the Council’s indication of support for the Ivorian peace process and looked forward to a peaceful and stable Côte d’Ivoire, which would have a massive impact on the whole African continent.


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