Presidential elections in Côte d’Ivoire next year would be a “critical” moment to assess progress in the security situation, as the West African nation continued to recover from its 2011 political crisis, the Chair of the United Nations body overseeing the sanctions regime told the Security Council today.
Cristián Barros Melet (Chile), speaking in his capacity as Chair of the Security Council Committee established pursuant to resolution 1572 (2004) concerning Côte d’Ivoire, summarized the midterm report of the Group of Experts tasked with monitoring those measures, as well as discussion of its findings during the Committee’s informal consultations on 10 October.
Mr. Barros said that while the Group had improved its cooperation with Ivoirian authorities in New York and in Abidjan, there was still room for improvement. The Coordinator had noted that the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process had excluded a significant number of combatants. Security sector reform still suffered from internal divisions between ex-Force nouvelles elements and the regular army that had fought in the 2011 electoral crisis.
He said the Group also had expressed concern over the destabilizing role that some former Zone Commanders continued to play, or could play, in Côte d’Ivoire — notably, Martin Kouakou Fofié, in relation to his control over heavy artillery that had entered the country in violation of the sanctions regime, and Issiaka Ouattara, over his regular criminal activities linked to natural resources.
Turing to the issue of diamonds, the Group had noted progress by Ivorian authorities, he said, although rules on the chain of custody of diamonds still needed to be implemented. Illegal gold and diamond mining, as well as cocoa smuggling, continued, and involved foreign artisanal miners from Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali and Togo. The Group warned that the large presence of foreign communities in Côte d’Ivoire could escalate tensions.
Going forward, the Group would continue to focus on investigations related to elements of the pro-Gbagbo radical wing operating from Ghana; links between natural resource exploitation and sanctions violations; use of revenue from illegal and parallel tax systems; border control capacity; and the presence of large quantities of weapons and ammunition still unaccounted for in Côte d’Ivoire.
During the Committee’s 10 October informal consultations, delegates had commended the Group for its efforts to monitor and report on the sanctions regime. A number of Committee members agreed there were still reasons for concerns, including delays in the implementation of disarmament, demobilization and reintegration programmes, impunity, armed attacks by unidentified combatants, natural resources fuelling instability and a lack of capacity-building initiatives. They called on the Group to continue to monitor security developments.
Mr. Barros said he planned to visit Côte d’Ivoire from 2 to 8 December. The goal was to stress the importance of fully implementing Council resolutions, collect information about the situation and engage in dialogue with Ivorian authorities. He would also assess problems vis-à-vis applying measures imposed by the Council.
The meeting began at 5:16 p.m. and ended at 5:25 p.m.