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Ban Ki-moon concerned by 'slackening of momentum' in Ivorian peace process

10 October 2007 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned that the failure to achieve key benchmarks set out in a March peace agreement has led to a “slackening of momentum” which threatens the overall peace process and security conditions in Côte d’Ivoire.

In his latest report to the Security Council on the work of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Mr. Ban says the overall peace process and the improved security situation “will remain fragile and vulnerable to reversals” unless it is underpinned by concrete progress in carrying out the accord reached between the country’s rival political leaders.

The Ouagadougou agreement, struck in the capital of neighbouring Burkina Faso, sets out a series of measures to deal with the crisis which first divided Côte d’Ivoire between the Government-controlled south and the rebel Forces Nouvelles-held north in 2002.

They include creating a new transitional government; organizing free and fair presidential elections; merging the Forces Nouvelles and the national defence and security forces through the establishment of an integrated command centre; dismantling the militias and disarming ex-combatants; and replacing the so-called zone of confidence separating north and south with a green line to be monitored by UNOCI.

In his report, Mr. Ban notes that difficulties in unifying the army have delayed the disarmament programme and the redeployment of State administration throughout the country. This, in turn, has placed serious strains on preparations for general elections, including a nationwide identification scheme. In addition, he views the continuing human rights abuses as “extremely disturbing.”

He stresses the need to adhere to the timelines in the agreement relating to these tasks and calls on President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro to “give added impetus” to making concrete progress.

Specifically, he calls for reverting to specific timelines, providing requisite resources to the integrated command centre and mixed units, resolving the military ranks issue, unifying the two forces, dismantling the militias and achieving disarmament, and rendering the new National Human Rights Commission operational.

Since the country’s international partners have provided funding for carrying out the agreement, he emphasizes that “the onus is now on the Government of Cote d’Ivoire to do its part and accelerate the implementation process.”

Despite a June attack on an aircraft carrying Prime Minister Soro, the Secretary-General describes the general security situation as calm. At the request of President Gbagbo for an independent international inquiry into the attack, Mr. Ban dispatched an exploratory mission to the country earlier this month.

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