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As UN starts peacekeeping operation in Cte d'Ivoire, Annan urges reconciliation

5 April 2004 As troops from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) transferred to the UN Operation in Cte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) at a ceremony today in the main commercial centre, Abidjan, Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged reconciliation among all concerned.

Noting that the United Nations was coming to the aid of Ivorians, "not to impose or enforce peace, but to help them maintain it," Mr. Annan appealed to "the Ivorian parties to reject all forms of violence and take advantage of the window of opportunity provided by the United Nations' peacekeeping presence to re-engage in political dialogue aimed at genuine reconciliation for the benefit of all Ivorians."

In a message read by his Special Representative, Albert Tvodjr, the Secretary-General urged President Laurent Gbagbo to submit to the National Assembly draft laws required by the January 2003 Linas-Marcoussis peace agreement, cooperate fully with the international commission of inquiry appointed to investigate deadly clashes during last month's protests, and to make sure that civic and political liberties are restored.

Mr. Annan also appealed to the opposition parties who suspended their participation in the Government of National Reconciliation to go back as soon as possible.

He congratulated ECOWAS, which had contingents from Benin, Ghana, Niger, Senegal and Togo, and France, for their contributions to the effort to restore peace in the West African country.

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