24 March 2004 On the eve of massive demonstrations planned by opposing sides in Côte d'Ivoire, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appealed to all Ivorian parties to exercise utmost restraint, reduce tensions and avoid exacerbating the situation in the West African country.
Through a statement read by his spokesman in New York as rivals geared up for events tomorrow in Abidjan, the main commercial centre, Mr. Annan also appealed to the leaders of all the Ivorian political parties to show statesmanship and engage in constructive consultations, as recently promised by President Laurent Gbagbo, so as to move forward with implementing the letter and spirit of the January 2003 peace pact, the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement.
Peacekeeping troops from France and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are currently stationed in Côte d'Ivoire.
The UN Security Council has approved a full peacekeeping mission for Côte d'Ivoire, starting next month. It will replace the small UN mission (MINUCI) currently in place, along with an ECOWAS force (ECOMICI), which will be folded into the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI).
In the same resolution, the Council separately authorized the French forces to use "all necessary means" in order to support UNOCI, particularly in the area of providing security.