|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
7197th Meeting (AM)
Côte d’Ivoire Made Significant Step towards National Reconciliation Though
Security, Stability Remain ‘Fragile’, Security Council Told
Permanent Representative Supports Proposed Extension of Peacekeeping Operation
Resumed political dialogue between the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and the former ruling party was a significant step towards national reconciliation, but security and stability remained fragile, the head of the United Nations operation in that country told the Security Council today.
“The resumption of dialogue constitutes a very positive development,” said Aichatou Mindaoudou Souleymane, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), as she briefed the Council on his latest report (document S/2014/342), dated 15 May 2014. She said that during talks begun on 22 May with the former ruling Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), the Government, which earlier in the year had agreed to release several high-ranking officials close to former President Laurent Gbagbo from prison, had agreed to the release of 150 more detainees. However, some human rights experts had warned that the decision could signify the absence of the separation of powers between the executive and judiciary branches.
Today’s briefing also highlighted advances in other areas since the country’s crisis in 2010 and early 2011. “ Côte d’Ivoire is engaged on the path to sustainable stability,” said Ms. Souleymane, citing impressive economic growth and rapid infrastructure development due to an influx of private investment and a favourable business climate. Thanks also to positive economic indicators and an increase in the minimum wage, Ivorians were beginning to enjoy a peace dividend, she added.
In addition, she said, President Alassane Ouattara continued to make significant conciliatory gestures to ensure an inclusive society, including the voluntary repatriation of several hundred people, among them high-ranking individuals associated with the former Government, the de-freezing of their bank assets and the return of their homes and property. To aid victims of the crisis, the Government aimed to have 60,000 people participate in meetings of the Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission by the end of that body’s mandate in September. Such moves were important since FPI had broken off dialogue with the Government and boycotted the national census due to the latter’s decision to transfer youth leader Charles Ble Goude to the International Criminal Court.
Turning to elections scheduled for October 2015, she said four people, including President Ouattara, had announced their intention to run. On 20 May, the National Assembly had adopted a law restructuring the composition of the Independent Electoral Commission, reducing its membership to 17.
Concerning the security situation, she said that despite significant improvements since 2011, armed robberies and organized crime continued to sow instability. The national police were ill equipped to maintain law and order in the west, which was plagued by disputes over land tenure and issues of nationality. Meanwhile certain elements of the Republican Forces of Côte d’Ivoire (FRCI) had undermined their own legitimacy by committing extortion and armed robbery, she said, adding that traditional hunters known as dozo had committed human rights violations in many areas.
She went on to emphasize the vital importance of security-sector reform for restoring public trust in national security institutions. To that end, the Government intended to disarm, demobilize and reintegrate all former combatants by June 2015. Thus far, with support from the United Nations, it had registered 30,000 ex-fighters and was on track to register the remaining 70,000 before the 2015 elections.
For its part, UNOCI was conducting investigations into recent attacks on Côte d’Ivoire’s western border with Liberia in which three soldiers and 10 civilians, including two children, had been killed. It was also working with the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) on a strategic framework to help the Ivorian and Liberian Governments bolster border security. By the end of May, UNOCI had downsized by 1,700 troops, in line with Council resolution 2112 (2013), but given the sensitivity of the electoral period, it was important to consider the Secretary-General’s call, in his latest report, for a more modest reduction of 1,100 troops by June 2015. The Secretary-General also called for the creation of a 650-troop quick-reaction force within UNOCI that could help to fill the security vacuum in certain areas of the country.
Youssoufou Bamba ( Côte d’Ivoire) said the remarkable progress made since the end of his country’s crisis was due, in part, to excellent relations with the United Nations. The security situation had stabilized and 22,000 former combatants had been reintegrated into society at a rapid rate. Political dialogue continued in a responsible manner, thanks to support from the United Nations, and a national reconciliation process had been launched. Economic growth had strengthened, although the Government needed to step up efforts to fight poverty in order to ensure inclusive growth.
Constructive cooperation between the Government and the Council had allowed for a transparent review of the sanctions regime, which had led to the lifting of the embargo on diamonds and a partial lifting of the arms embargo, he continued. All that positive progress had resulted in greater stability, he said. The Government fully endorsed the gradual drawdown of UNOCI’s military component, and the primary remaining challenge was the security situation in the context of the 2015 elections. Calling for an extension of UNOCI’s mandate, he voiced strong support for the proposed quick-reaction force.
The Secretary-General’s report provides an update on major developments in Côte d’Ivoire since December and outlines the major findings of a strategic review of the country. It recommends extending UNOCI’s mandate, due to expire at the end of this month, until 30 June 2015.
The meeting began at 10 a.m. and ended at 10:26 a.m.
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