Ladsous Says Peace Mission Remains Essential to Cote d’Ivoire

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RAPAPORT… While the United Nations (UN) praised Côte d’Ivoire for engaging the ”right path” to peace, following a violent post-election crisis in 2011, threats to the nation’s stability cannot be  underestimated, according to a  senior official.

The UN’s peace mission in  Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) remains essential, particularly with respect to its  priorities of protecting civilians, disarming rebels, demobilization,  reintegrating former combatants and security sector reform, stated the UN’s under-secretary-general for peacekeeping,  Hervé Ladsous.

Ladsous presented his findings to the UN Security Council in New York this week, while presenting Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s latest report on the West African nation. Ladsous praised President Alassane Outtara and his new government for taking “signing steps” to tackle many of the challenges facing Cote d’Ivoire.

He cautioned, however, that the former combatants “could become a threat to human rights and stability in Ivory Coast and the sub-region, as they are more likely to pick up arms again should the opportunity arise.”

Summarizing other key aspects of the report, Ladsous called upon the nation’s citizens  to resolve their political difference peacefully and he stressed renewed concerns over  political fragmentation.

Ban wrote in his report, “I therefore urge the government and the former ruling party to resume discussions, while continuing dialog with other parties, to pave the way for the political reconciliation that will be essential as we move towards a new electoral cycle in 2015.” He also noted the upcoming presidential and legislative elections will be a “litmus test for the country.”

Rough diamonds are embargoed from Côte d’Ivoire, pending political reforms and long-term stability. In a key milestone earlier this year, the country successfully held regional and municipal elections, which demonstrated the ability of national authorities and security forces to assume responsibility for organizing the safeguarding the voting process, according to Ban’s report.

Ladsous told the Security Council that security remains a concern for the country, particularly along the border with diamond-rich Liberia. During a quadripartite meeting in April, the two governments agreed to enhance their presences at the border area and to take steps to strengthen security and reinforce humanitarian coordination. These efforts are supported by UNOCI and the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).  

Additional threats to the peace process include  the presence of mercenaries, former combatants and other armed elements; the uncontrolled circulation of weapons; criminal activities such as drug trafficking and organized crime and violence between communities.

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