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Cte d'Ivoire: Annan calls for calm as original date of elections nears

27 October 2005 With the earlier date of the now postponed elections in Côte d'Ivoire falling on Sunday, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged Ivorians to refrain from creating tensions, but instead to work on quickly choosing a new prime minister and moving towards free and fair elections next year.

"The Secretary-General is following closely developments in Côte d'Ivoire, especially in view of the approaching date of 30 October, when the governance arrangements set out in the African Union (AU) decision of 6 October and endorsed by the Security Council should come into effect. These arrangements provide a clear framework for moving forward decisively in the Ivorian peace process," he said through his spokesman.

"In this connection, the Secretary-General urges them to cooperate with international stakeholders to facilitate the appointment of a new Prime Minister as soon as possible and the preparation of a roadmap leading to open, free and fair elections in 2006."

Elections for a new Government were postponed for up to a year because the parties failed to carry out all of the commitments in the peace accords they had signed.

Under the Council resolution, approved last Friday in support of the AU's decisions, the ministerial-level International Working Group would verify that a new Prime Minister "acceptable to all" was appointed quickly, with broad responsibilities for security, defence and the electoral process.

At present, the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) is deployed to monitor a cease-fire after fighting that first erupted in 2002, when rebels seeking to oust President Laurent Gbagbo seized the north, splitting the world's largest cocoa producer into two.

Mr. Annan called on all the parties and their followers to avoid any action that might create tensions, including organizing disruptive political gatherings.

The United Nations is determined to work closely with all Ivorian parties, the African Union, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other international partners in helping the people of Côte d'Ivoire achieve a peaceful and durable settlement, he said.

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