SECURITY COUNCIL, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, SAYS DECISION TO HOLD CÔTE D’IVOIRE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION ON 30 NOVEMBER ‘IMPORTANT STEP FORWARD’

29 April 2008
SC/9315

SECURITY COUNCIL, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, SAYS DECISION TO HOLD CÔTE D’IVOIRE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION ON 30 NOVEMBER ‘IMPORTANT STEP FORWARD’

29 April 2008
Security Council
SC/9315
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Security Council

5880th Meeting (PM)

SECURITY COUNCIL, IN PRESIDENTIAL STATEMENT, SAYS DECISION TO HOLD CÔTE D’IVOIRE

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION ON 30 NOVEMBER ‘IMPORTANT STEP FORWARD’

Will Review Mandates, Troop Strength by 30 July;

Reaffirms Full Support for Special Representative’s Certification Role

The Security Council today warmly welcomed the approval by Ivorian authorities of the Independent Electoral Commission’s proposal to organize presidential elections on 30 November as an important step forward, and encouraged the Ivorian parties to redouble their efforts to meet that commitment, and the international community to bring continued support to that effect.

In a statement read out by Council President Dumisani Kumalo (South Africa), the Council also welcomed United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire (22-24 April), and was encouraged by the signing, under Mr. Ban’s auspices, of a Code of Good Conduct for elections by all political parties.

The Council reaffirmed its full support for the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Côte d’Ivoire, Choi Young-Jin, and recalled that he should certify that all stages of the electoral process provide all the necessary guarantees for open, free, fair and transparent presidential and legislative elections.  It fully supported the five-criterion framework elaborated by Mr. Choi in that regard and welcomed by the Ivorian parties.

(Five criteria proposed by the Special Representative to certify the validity of the elections were welcomed by the follow-up committee to the Ouagadougou Peace Agreement.  The committee, formally known as the Evaluation and Accompanying Committee, endorsed the five-criterion framework after a consultative meeting the week of 24 March in Ouagadougou.  The criteria were developed by the United Nations in consultation with the Facilitator of the inter-Ivorian dialogue, President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso and the Ivorian parties.)

In that connection, the Council encouraged the Ivorian parties to build on the ongoing mobile courts’ process for the identification of the Ivorian population and registration of voters.  It looked forward to the publication of the electoral list as a crucial step in the electoral process.

In the context of the forthcoming presidential elections, the Council called on the parties to make concrete progress to promote political and security stability in such key areas as the disarmament and dismantling of militias; the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme; weapons storage; the unification and restructure of defence and security forces; and the full restoration of State authority throughout the country.

Welcoming the assessment of the Secretary-General in his report on the troop level of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), the Council would review by 30 July the mandates of UNOCI and French forces that support it, as well as the troop levels, in accordance with paragraph 8 of resolution 1795 (2008).

The meeting began at 1:56 p.m. and adjourned at 2 p.m.

The full text of presidential statement S/PRST/2008/11 reads as follows:

“The Security Council recalls that it endorsed the Ouagadougou Political Agreement as well as its Supplementary Agreements.

“The Security Council warmly welcomes the approval by the Ivorian authorities of the proposal from the Independent Electoral Commission to organize presidential elections on 30 November 2008.  It underlines that this announcement, supported by all Ivorian parties, and the signing by President Laurent Gbagbo of related decrees, constitute an important step forward.  The Security Council encourages the Ivorian parties to redouble their efforts to meet this commitment, and the international community to bring continued support to this effect.

“The Security Council commends the Facilitator, President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, for his continued efforts to support the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire, in particular through the Ouagadougou Political Agreement follow-up mechanisms.  This support to the actions of President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, with the active engagement of SRSG Choi Young-Jin, has been instrumental towards achieving the establishment of a consensus among all political parties to hold presidential elections in 2008.

“The Security Council reaffirms its full support to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Côte d’Ivoire, and recalls that he shall certify that all stages of the electoral process provide all the necessary guarantees for the holding of open, free, fair and transparent presidential and legislative elections in accordance with international standards, consistent with paragraph 9 of resolution 1795 (2008).  It fully supports in particular the five criteria framework elaborated by Mr. Choi Young-Jin in this regard and welcomed by the Ivorian parties.

“The Security Council welcomes the visit of the Secretary-General to Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire (22-24 April) and is encouraged by the signing, under the auspices of the Secretary-General, of a Code of Good Conduct for elections by all political parties.

“The Security Council welcomes the Secretary-General’s report dated 15 April 2008 (S/2008/250).  It encourages the Ivorian parties to build on the on-going mobile courts’ process for the identification of the Ivorian population and registration of voters.  The Security Council looks forward to the publication of the electoral list as a crucial step in the electoral process.

“The Security Council calls upon the parties to make concrete progress to promote political and security stability, in particular in the context of the forthcoming presidential elections, in such key areas as the disarmament and dismantling of militias, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programme, the storage of weapons, the unification and restructuring of defence and security forces and the full restoration of State authority throughout the country.

“The Security Council takes note with appreciation of the support of bilateral and multilateral donors, in particular ECOWAS, AU and the EU.  It calls upon donors and the Government of Côte d’Ivoire to make further efforts to finance the electoral process, including through the trust fund established by UNDP to that effect, and calls upon the authorities of Côte d’Ivoire to engage fully with the donors.  It also encourages the international community to enhance its financial support for the facilitation.

“The Security Council expresses its appreciation for the role played by the United Nations Operations in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), supported by the French forces, in contributing to bring the security needed by the peace process and the logistical support required for the preparation of the elections.  It welcomes the assessment made by the Secretary-General on the troop level of UNOCI in his report (S/2008/250).  The Security Council will review by 30 July 2008 the mandates of UNOCI and French forces which support it, as well as the level of troops of UNOCI, in accordance with paragraph 8 of resolution 1795 (2008).

“The Security Council requests the Secretary-General to keep it regularly informed of the situation including on the logistical support that UNOCI will provide for the elections.”

Background

WhentheSecurity Council met this afternoon, it had before it the Secretary-General’s sixteenth progress report on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) (document S/2008/ 250), pursuant to resolution 1795 (2008), which asked for a report no later than 15 April on developments, particularly on the preparation of elections.  The report covers major developments since the report of 2 January (document S/2008/1), as well as findings of a technical assessment mission that visited the country from 3 to 12 March.  It says that recommendations on drawing down UNOCI will be made after the elections.

Regarding deployment, as at 8 April, the report states that military strength of UNOCI stood at 8,034 personnel,comprising 7,745 troops, 193 military observers and 96 staff officers, against a totalauthorized strength of 8,115.  Of the Operation’s 11 battalions, 5 are deployed in thewestern part of the country, 4 in the east and 2 in Abidjan.  One aviation unit, threeengineering companies, one transport company and one special force company areproviding enabling capacity and operational reserve to the force.  The Sous-Groupement de sécurité, comprising 279 personnel, continues to provide close protection for members of the Government and other dignitaries.

The Operation has continued redeploying its troops from the former zone of confidence in order to reinforce its presence in the west and north of the country and to make additional troops available to support the integrated command centre in providing security for the various key processes under the Ouagadougou Agreement, the report states.  The Operation’s new concept of operations, provides for a shift from the previous static deployment in the zone of confidence to a configuration that enables the force to be more mobile and to cover the entire territory of Côte d’Ivoire in order to help the national security forces to provide a secure environment for the re-establishment of State authority, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration exercise, the identification process and the elections.

The report goes on to say that, despite a further reduction in February of the Licorne troops from 2,500 to 1,800, the French force continues to provide essential support to the Operation and maintains its full quick-reaction capability.  Licorne also conducts long-range patrols to key areas of the country and works with UNOCI to provide capacity-building support for the integrated command centre and the defence and security forces of Côte d’Ivoire.  As at 7 April, 1,182 police personnel were deployed to UNOCI, against an authorized ceiling of 1,200.

Regarding the technical assessment mission, the report notes that it comprised representatives of the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, the Department of Political Affairs and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Their visit in March was to assess the progress made towards preparing for the elections and to assist UNOCI in developing proposals concerning the role the Operation should play in supporting the remaining tasks under the Ouagadougou Agreement.  The assessment mission met with a wide spectrum of international and Ivorian stakeholders.

Among its findings, the mission witnessed a notable improvement in the overall political and security environment.  It also confirmed that all Ivorian parties were interested in holding national elections in 2008.  Both President Gbagbo and Prime Minister Soro expressed their confidence that the relative stability that had prevailed in Côte d’Ivoire since the signing of the Ouagadougou Agreement had allowed the country to proceed towards the elections, which should be held in 2008.

According to the report, the road to the elections, however, is fraught with a “treacherous mix” of technical challenges, security and political risks.  In addition, most of the key election-related processes are plagued by serious funding gaps, which are already impeding the electoral process and could undo the progress made so far.  Despite considerable revenues from the cacao and oil industries in the south, the State is still unable to collect revenues from the northern part of the country.  The Forces nouvelles zone commanders continue to control local structures, so as to illicitly collect revenues for themselves.

The Prime Minister informed the assessment mission that another reason why the Government had not been able to provide all the funding for the key phases under the Ouagadougou Agreement was that its priority had been to clear the country’s arrears to the World Bank, which amounted to $240 million.  There are also concerns that the identification of the population, which lies at the centre of the Ivorian crisis, may again become contentious and delay elections.

Concerning reunification of the two forces, the Chiefs of Staff of the defence and security forces and the Forces nouvelles informed the assessment mission that they had developed a proposal for a unified transition army, which would be composed of mixed units responsible for providing security to the electoral process.  However, the proposal has yet to be approved by the President and Prime Minister.  Moreover, decisions on the long-standing issues concerning the ranks and salaries of the Forces nouvelles elements that will rejoin the army are still pending.

Work on the reintegration of Forces nouvelles elements into the national police and gendarmerie has similarly stalled, following the police and gendarmerie commanders’ rejection of the proposal by the Facilitator to include 4,000 Forces nouvelles personnel in the police and gendarmerie forces.  And, many Ivorian stakeholders expressed concern that the militias, which are reported to be currently dormant, may be easily mobilized during the elections, especially in the western part of the country and in Abidjan.

Included in the series of recommendations in the present report for UNOCI’s role in supporting the remaining tasks under the Ouagadougou Agreement were the following:  helping the Ivorian parties to surmount the challenges and minimize the risks identified in the present report; supporting the parties and the Facilitator in their efforts to keep the peace process on track; contributing to a secure environment for the elections; contributing, through the Special Representative, towards enhancing the credibility of the electoral process; providing logistical support for the elections; assisting national institutions in carrying out all the key tasks that must be completed before the elections; and devising an effective and targeted public information strategy to sensitize the Ivorian players about the role of UNOCI in the peace process.

The Secretary-General states that in order to contribute to a secure environment for the elections, it is essential to maintain UNOCI’s current troop strength until after the elections and further recommendations on drawing down UNOCI will be made after the elections.  The UNOCI police component will continue to assist in reintegrating Forces nouvelles elements into the national police and gendarmerie on the basis of agreements reached by the parties and will continue to support the training and mentoring of those elements.  The Operation will also provide logistical support for the redeployment of the national police to the northern part of the country in support of an agreed, comprehensive security plan for the electoral process developed by the Ivorian authorities, with the assistance of UNOCI and the Licorne force.

In the thirteenth progress report on UNOCI (document S/2007/275), the Secretary-General had recommended that UNOCI review its troop level once two key benchmarks, the disarmament process and the restoration of State authority throughout the country, had been completed, but as indicated in the present report, these key benchmarks have yet to be attained.  Following the anticipated elections, consultations with the newly elected Government will be essential in order to determine the nature and level of support the Ivorian authorities will require from UNOCI for the legislative and local elections before the Operation begins to draw down.

The report also considers support of persons affected by the conflict; support of efforts to create a positive political environment and of efforts to promote and protect human rights; support for the economic recovery; and financial support for the implementation of the Ouagadougou Agreement.

The Ouagadougou Agreement has built upon the limited progress made byprevious agreements and achieved greater strides, bringing Côte d’Ivoire closer tonational elections over the past year, the report notes.  Its most significant achievements include thesustained, albeit still fragile, positive political and security environment that now prevails in the country, the incipient recovery of the economy and the advances made in the identification of the population, which has been at the heart of the Ivorian crisis.

The Secretary-General welcomes the consensus among the Ivorian parties to hold the elections in 2008.  The challenges ahead will, however, subject that consensus to a rigorous test.  The parties should do everything possible to preserve the spirit of reconciliation, sustained dialogue and inclusiveness engendered by the Ouagadougou Agreement in order to keep the peace process on track.

The report says that, while the elections will contribute to the consolidation of peace and stability, they also bear serious risks, if they are not conducted in a transparent, fair and credible manner.  The Secretary-General was pleased to note that all Ivorian parties have expressed their commitment to “clean” and transparent elections and are working closely with the Secretary-General’s Special Representative to ensure that his role in fulfilling his certification mandate contributes to enhancing the transparency and credibility of all stages of the electoral process.  It is important to complement those efforts through dialogue aimed at managing the post-elections period.

In conclusion, the report says that the United Nations remains committed to providing its full support to the implementation of the Ouagadougou Agreement.  The United Nations system in Côte d’Ivoire will continue to put at the disposal of the national stakeholders and institutions such critical resources as technical expertise, logistical assistance and capacity-building support.  In its support to Ivorians in the implementation of the remaining tasks under the Ouagadougou Agreement, the United Nations will continue to work closely with all international partners, including the donors, the humanitarian community, the Facilitator and the Facilitator’s special representative in Abidjan.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.