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Security Council calls on Côte d'Ivoire to implement 2003 peace agreement

26 March 2004 Faced with fatal clashes at opposition demonstrations yesterday in Côte d'Ivoire as the United Nations prepares to deploy peacekeeping forces there, Security Council today expressed grave concern about the events and said political agreement is the only solution to the crisis in the troubled West African country.

The 15-member Council, in a press statement read by the current President, Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sablière of France, emphasized that it was committed to implementing the January 2003 Linas-Marcoussis peace agreement, "as evidenced by its decision to deploy a peacekeeping force with a clear and robust mandate."

The government of the West African country and the then rebel Forces Nouvelles signed the peace agreement in Linas-Marcoussis, France, in January 2003, ending fierce fighting and setting up a government of national unity.

Earlier this week, a 'Memorandum of Political Signatories of the Linas-Marcoussis and Accra II Agreements,' was handed over to President Laurent Gbagbo for further negotiations.

"The members of the Security Council stressed that it is imperative for all the Ivorian parties to remain fully engaged in the government," said Mr. de La Sablière. "They urge all the Ivorian parties to act with responsibility and restraint in the interest of Côte d'Ivoire and the Ivorian people."

Peacekeeping troops from France and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are currently stationed in Côte d'Ivoire. A 6,240-member UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) is scheduled to start deploying on 4 April for an initial period of 12 months.

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