|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
6584th Meeting (AM)
Restoring Order Key to National Reconciliation, Economic Recovery, All Other Tasks
in Côte d’Ivoire, Special Representative Tells Security Council
Permanent Representative Outlines New Government’s
Efforts to Bolster Security, Disarm Former Combatants, Repatriate Refugees
While efforts to achieve national reconciliation in Côte d’Ivoire, prepare for legislative elections later this year and make headway on economic recovery were moving in the right direction, a rapid restoration of law and order was of “primordial” importance in ensuring that all other tasks could be carried out, Choi Young-jin, Special Representative of the Secretary-General, told the Security Council today.
“We feel confident, as President [Alassane] Ouattara and his team, who have shown remarkable patience and sang-froid during the crisis, are working day and night to successfully meet the post-crisis challenges for the benefit of the Ivorian people,” said Mr. Choi in a briefing to the Council. A clear vision for the establishment of a national security structure must be developed to allow the effective deployment of police and gendarmerie elements and a return to barracks by the military.
The Government was doing its best to speed the restoration of law and order, and had appointed the top commanders of the security structure on 7 July, he continued. The Forces républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI) were providing a security environment, with assistance from some gendarmerie and police, and although challenges remained in the Yopougon District of Abidjan and in the west, armed elements supportive of former President Laurent Gbagbo were not likely to mount a substantial challenge to law and order.
Mr. Choi, who is also Head of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), said the mission was taking two measures in the west, where there was a “security deficit”. The first entailed establishing eight new UNOCI military camps — including four in the area of the border with Liberia — and constructing a military camp in Aboisso, along the Abidjan-Accra axis road. UNOCI planned to complete that project by the end of the month, and to reinforce the camps with civilian staff focused on human rights, the rule of law, civil affairs and child protection, among other areas. The second measure related to rehabilitating and equipping a number of prefects’ and sub-prefects’ offices in the west, he said, noting that UNOCI had been consulting with the Peacebuilding Support Office on the estimated $5 million needed to support that effort.
He said national reconciliation efforts had benefited from the deeply rooted Ivorian political culture of tolerance, non-violence and compromise, adding that the appointment of the President of the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission as well as the “meltdown” of Mr. Gbagbo’s supporters augured well. Former Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny had held intense nationwide consultations with traditional leaders to reduce tensions, he said, emphasizing that Ivorians themselves must take ownership of the reconciliation process. The Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission would carry out training missions in South Africa, Rwanda and Morocco, he added.
As for economic recovery, he said most experts had banked their optimistic views on the resourcefulness of the Ivorian people, the robustness of the agriculture sector and the willingness of the international community, including the Bretton Woods institutions, to cooperate with the Government. The Ivorian people had shown an unfailing determination during the post-electoral crisis, closing a painful chapter in their country’s history and now facing a fortunate window of opportunity to chart their future.
Youssoufou Bamba (C ôte d’Ivoire) said the 21 May events that had seen the installation of President Ouattara had officially marked the return of the rule of law and normal life. A new Government comprising all political parties — except Mr. Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), which had chosen not to participate — had met with the President on 5 and 6 July to develop 14 short-term strategies aimed at meeting immediate needs.
There was a consensus among Government Ministers that many existing challenges must be overcome rapidly in order not to lose impetus, he stressed. They had agreed, among other things, on the need to stabilize and reform the security sector, disarm the population, and work towards national reconciliation, human rights, the holding of elections and economic recovery. Welcoming the real progress achieved, particularly in building a joint army and police force, he nevertheless expressed serious concern about the situation in western Côte d’Ivoire, notably the region bordering Liberia, where militia and mercenaries allied with the former regime remained active.
Mr. Bamba also welcomed the Council’s decision, by resolution 1992 (2011), to redeploy three helicopters and accompanying crew from the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to UNOCI. During a meeting of the Mano River Association in Monrovia yesterday, President Ouattara, as well as the Liberian and Guinean Heads of State, had indicated their desire to work together closely to enhance regional peace and security, he said.
Regarding disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, he said 11,000 former combatants — including 8,700 from the Forces Armées des Forces Nouvelles (FAFN) and 2,200 from the FRCI — had been reintegrated into the army. While progress on disarmament had been slow, 100 individuals had turned in their weapons to UNOCI, he said. Still, the lack of equipment and sophisticated weapons limited police capacity.
He went on to note that Côte d’Ivoire’s law and order personnel had 15 handguns, a “ridiculously” low number, and expressed hope that the relevant Council resolution would be implemented to allow them to be better equipped. Moreover, the Department of Peacekeeping Operations should expedite the distribution of recovered weapons to the official armed forces, he added. The justice system’s inadequate infrastructure was also of serious concern, with many courts destroyed or vandalized.
Turning to the humanitarian situation, he said 60,000 of 200,000 refugees had been able to return home, and the rest were mainly in camps along the Liberian border. The Commerce Ministry was spearheading the repatriation of 5,000 of them, he said, appealing for more aid to help refugees and national humanitarian structures. He also called for an end to the culture of impunity that had persisted during the former regime, noting that there had been 3,000 victims during the five months of the post-election crisis.
President Ouattara had inherited a state of impunity where everything must be reconstructed, he said. That was why he had created the Ministry of Human Rights and Public Liberties, which aimed to ensure compliance with international security-sector standards while reinforcing judicial, administrative and police capacity. The aim, however, was not to treat members of the former regime inhumanely, he said, reaffirming the President’s determination to ensure respect for all human rights.
Regarding the legislative elections, he asked that UNOCI’s certification role be maintained and that the mission continue to support the Independent Electoral Commission. He also emphasized that youth employment would be indispensable, adding that UNOCI’s quick impact projects would help economic revival. The mission’s mandate must be extended because Côte d’Ivoire was still reliant on United Nations assistance, he said.
The meeting began at 10:09 a.m. and ended at 10:37 a.m.
Council members had before them the twenty-eighth report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (document S/2011/387) dated 24 June 2011, which covers developments since his report of 30 March 2011 (document S/2011/211).
According to the report, the situation in Côte d’Ivoire continued to deteriorate until former President Laurent Gbagbo was apprehended on 11 April 2011. Following escalated attacks against the civilian population, the Secretary-General instructed the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) to prevent the use of heavy weapons against civilians. On 11 April, Mr. Gbagbo, his wife and members of his family, staff and “cabinet” were apprehended by the Forces républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire in a bunker in the presidential residence.
Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Šimonović visited Côte d’Ivoire from 2 to 9 April, as did the International Commission of Inquiry established by the Human Rights Council, from 4 to 28 May, the report states. On 4 and 5 April, Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, visited western Côte d’Ivoire to highlight the immense consequences of the conflict, and Alain Le Roy, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, visited from 18 to 22 May.
The report says that as the situation slowly began to stabilize following Mr. Gbagbo’s apprehension, the Government took a number of initiatives to restore normality. On 1 May, President Alassane Ouattara announced the establishment of the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, with former Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny as Chair. On 5 May, the President of the Constitutional Council reversed the election results he had announced on 3 December and the Constitutional Council swore President Ouattara in on 6 May. The President announced his new Government on 1 June, but Mr. Gbagbo’s Ivorian Popular Front party declined his invitation to join the inclusive Government, demanding the former President’s release from detention first.
Recommending that the Council endorse those priority areas and extend UNOCI’s mandate for one year, the Secretary-General says that in light of the critical security challenges and the risks that another election will bring, the Council should authorize maintaining the strength of the mission’s military component at 9,792, comprising 8,402 troops, 186 military observers and 96 staff officers. He further recommends an increase of 205 individual police officers, with the appropriate language skills, which would bring the authorized levels to 1,555, comprising 780 formed police unit personnel and 775 individual police officers, as well as the 8 customs officers previously authorized. The Secretary-General also recommends reviewing the mission’s military and police strength after the legislative elections, at which time further adjustments could be recommended that would take into account progress in rebuilding national capacities and prevailing security challenges.
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