Continuing its provincial forums in Côte d’Ivoire, the United Nations this weekend mobilized the inhabitants of Touba, the Bafing regional capital, to support the peace accord to reunite the West African country that has been split between the Government-controlled south and the Forces Nouvelles-held north since 2002.
As with their compatriots elsewhere, the future of the country resides in their own hands, UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) spokesman Hamadoun Touré told an overflow crowd at the meeting, the first such event since last week’s “flame of peace” ceremony at which President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, the Forces Nouvelles leader, set fire to stockpiled weapons to officially launch the disarmament process.
Mr. Touré, representing UNOCI Officer-in-Charge Abou Moussa, stressed the importance of forums for a direct exchange of views with the local population, such as townspeople of in Touba, some 700 kilometres from Abidjan, the country’s commercial capital.
The representative of the local council, Diomandé Laciné, urged ONUCI to support the full application of the peace accord reached in Ouagadougou, in neighbouring Burkina Faso, in March.
The pact calls for creating a new transitional government; organizing free and fair presidential elections; merging the Forces Nouvelles and the national defence and security forces through the establishment of an integrated command centre; dismantling the militias, disarming ex-combatants and enrolling them in civil services programmes; and replacing the “zone of confidence” separating north and south with a green line to be monitored by UNOCI.
For his part Forces Nouvelles delegate Fofana Soualio called on the UN to focus more on preventing crises than in using all the resources at its disposal to put them out once they had ignited.
Underlining the significance of the event, a wading bird mask from the village of Koudoufouma, brought out only for great occasions, was displayed in public for the first time in many years, UNOCI said.