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Cte d'Ivoire: western militias reportedly ready to disarm

25 August 2005 The United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) reported today that four militia groups in the western part of the war-divided country have agreed to join in a ceremony marking their intention to disarm and demobilize.

The mission reported the actual weapons transfer will begin as soon as the National Programme for Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration works out the details and secures the necessary funds.

This past July, UNOCI joined Ivorian authorities in the west for patrols in and around the major cocoa marketing town of Duékoué, where brutal attacks by unidentified armed elements have left scores dead and wounded. The Security Council strongly deplored the massacres and urged authorities to conduct the inquiry so the perpetrators could quickly be brought to justice and condemned.

Fighting erupted in Côte d'Ivoire in 2002 when rebels seeking to oust President Laurent Gbagbo seized the north, dividing the world's largest cocoa producer in two. Last year the Security Council set up UNOCI, which, along with French Licorne forces, maintains a ceasefire between Government forces, ruling the south of the country, and the major rebel group, Forces Nouvelles, controlling the north.

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