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Côte d'Ivoire: Concerned about presidential decree, Annan urges parties to cooperate

29 January 2006 Reacting to the sudden announcement of a new presidential decree concerning Côte d'Ivoire's National Assembly, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today urged the parties there to cooperate in the interests of peace.

In a statement issued in Geneva, a spokesman for Mr. Annan voiced concern about the move by President Laurent Gbagbo to reportedly extend the Assembly, whose mandate had ended. Earlier this month, an International Working Group (IWG) issued a recommendation that would have effectively disbanded the Assembly, thus reducing the powers of President Gbagbo and giving wide-ranging powers to newly appointed Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny and his national-unity cabinet, which includes leaders of the armed and unarmed opposition.

The IWG's recommendation sparked widespread, violent protests against the UN in Côte d'Ivoire. In a bid to defuse the crisis, President Olusegan Obsanjo of Nigeria, then chair of the African Union (AU), traveled to Abidjan to press for a diplomatic solution.

Mr. Annan said the new presidential decree does not appear to conform with information he received from President Obsanjo concerning his visit to Abidjan, and from the UN peacekeeping mission in the country (ONUCI).

The Secretary-General stressed the need to avoid any unilateral action, and recalled that the parties must strictly respect Security Council resolution 1633, which called on them to implement immediately their peace accords. The measure also demanded that the Forces Nouvelles armed opposition and all militias proceed without delay with the national disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme so as to help restore State authority throughout the national territory, reunify the country and pave the way for holding long postponed elections as soon as possible.

Mr. Annan also voiced his intention to stay in contact with the concerned parties in order to achieve implementation of that resolution and decisions of the IWG. “The revival of the peace process requires the cooperation of all the parties among themselves and with the Secretary-General's Special Representative,” the spokesman said, referring to Pierre Schori, Mr. Annan's envoy to Côte d'Ivoire.

The Government rules the southern part of the world's most important cocoa producer and the armed opposition controls the north. UN peacekeeping troops and the UN-authorized French Licorne forces are stationed mainly along the Zone of Confidence between the two areas.

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