Ban Calls for Election Timetable in Cote d’Ivoire

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RAPAPORT… UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called upon the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to set a realistic target date for presidential elections in Cote d’Ivoire and to make public a comprehensive electoral timeline with clear milestones. Ban said that elections would bring a successful conclusion to the transitional arrangement that now holds between the government-held south and the northern area dominated by the rebel Forces Nouvelles. “Côte d’Ivoire is now at a stage where only two critical processes need to be completed in order to restore normalcy: reunification and elections,” Ban wrote in a report.

It has been two years since both sides signed the Ouagadougou Agreement in March 2007, and significant progress had been made toward restoring the country to peace and security. Hostilities were ended between the Forces Nouvelles and government troops, the zone of confidence that physically divided the country was removed, and the free movement of people and goods throughout the country was restored. The ongoing process to identify and register voters, technical preparations for the elections, the improvement in human rights throughout the country and a recovering economy are additional signs of the return to normalcy noted in Ban’s report.

A new government, elected by the end of 2009, would have the legitimacy to capitalize on the gains achieved so far in the peace process, Ban wrote. “I urge the IEC and the technical operators to remain focused on bringing these sensitive operations to a successful close.” Failure to resolve differences and the continued lack of a clearly set date for the elections would adversely affect the future of the country and prolong the suffering of the people, he said. The UN has embargoed diamonds and other items from the country until a free and fair presidential election has been held.

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