Upcoming Cote d’Ivoire Elections Face Tech Challenge

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RAPAPORT… Technical difficulties in Cote d’Ivoire may adversely affect the timeline for the country’s much anticipated presidential election. The current polling date is set for November 29, 2009, and the United Nations has made a free and fair election a condition on lifting sanctions for rough diamonds.

Young-Jin Choi, a United Nations special representative and head of the U.N. Operation in Côte d’Ivoire,  said that even though two months have already been lost,  he noted some successful political developments such as the establishment of mobile court hearings across the country and the completion of voter registration. He noted that there is now a very optimistic atmosphere in Côte d’Ivoire, with a very strong electoral momentum that would be difficult to break. “The election is just around the corner and you can even feel it,” he said in an interview with UN Radio.

The U.N. has been providing technical and logistical support for preparations for the elections, including for voter identification and registration. More than 6.5 million people have been registered for the upcoming polls, a key element of the agreement for political reconciliation in the West African country, which was divided in 2002 between the government-controlled south and the rebel Forces Nouvelles-held north.

In his recent report on UNOCI, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the weeks remaining until the elections are fraught with major obstacles, including disarmament of militias and reintegration of former rebels. These “uncompleted tasks” could “create serious risks for the elections if they are not carefully managed, and, beyond the elections, adversely affect the prevailing stability,”  Ki-moon stated, calling for the parties to maintain dialogue and compromise in the run-up to the elections.

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