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Security Council extends UN mission in Côte d'Ivoire through mid-December

24 January 2006 The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations peacekeeping operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) through 15 December and pledged to keep its troop strength under review, stopping short of meeting Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s recommendation to significantly increase in the size of the force.

In a report to the Council earlier this month, Mr. Annan said the mission’s mandate should be extended through 24 January 2006 to assist in a peace process that includes elections planned for this October.

The report called for an additional 3,400 soldiers or four battalions to be added to UNOCI’s troop strength, plus an additional 475 police personnel.

Mr. Annan said the increases were needed to assist with the tasks of the broader peace process, which include disarming and demobilizing combatants. They are also required in light of “the volatile security situation and the possibility that another major violent crisis might occur.”

This recommendation proved prescient. The report was issued on 13 January, just three days before demonstrations outside UN offices in Abidjan turned violent and spread across the country before intensive diplomatic activity restored calm several days later.

Commenting on these developments in the light of his recommendations for a larger force, Mr. Annan told journalists last Thursday that “events on the ground have made our case.”

The proposed increase would constitute a marked expansion of UNOCI, which presently has an authorized strength of up to 7,090 military personnel and 725 police officers.

By today’s unanimously adopted resolution, the Security Council said it would review the tasks and the troop level of UNOCI when considering the forthcoming report if the Secretary-General on the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). The situations in both Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia will then be examined in the light of efforts to achieve progress towards the organization of elections by the end of October, the Council said.

The mission in Côte d’Ivoire was established in May 2003 to help the Ivorian parties implement the peace agreement they signed in January of that year, ending the civil war that divided the country between the government-controlled south and the rebel-held north.

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