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Top UN official urges immediate publication of timetable for Ivorian polls

17 July 2009 – The top United Nations official in Côte d’Ivoire has called for the immediate publication of a timetable for the long-awaited presidential elections, which are now set for 29 November.

If the deadlines for each stage of the electoral process are not met, there is a risk that the polls – repeatedly postponed since 2005 – could be delayed, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Choi Y. J., said following a meeting on Wednesday with Ivorian Prime Minister Guillaume Soro.

The UN Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), which is headed by Mr. Choi, has been providing technical and logistical support for preparations for the elections, including in areas such as voter identification and registration.

Over 6 million voters have been registered so far, or about 70 per cent of the eligible voter pool in the West African nation, which became divided in 2002 between the Government-controlled south and the rebel Forces Nouvelles-held north.

Mr. Choi, who held a similar meeting with President Laurent Gbagbo earlier this week, also stressed that UNOCI is ready to assist the Independent Electoral Commission and the relevant authorities in overcoming any challenge on the road to the elections, according to a news release issued by the mission.

In addition, the Special Representative underlined the fact that the implementation of decisions associated with the country’s 2003 peace agreement had been postponed, including the transfer of authority and the redeployment of the administration in the north of the country.

“We talked about how to strengthen the achievements and how to take up the challenges,” said Mr. Choi.

In his latest report on the work of UNOCI, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that Côte d’Ivoire’s political parties have the responsibility for ensuring that the elections are held on time and are free, fair and transparent.

He added that it is important that the parties sustain the progress achieved so far and complete, “in a timely manner,” the remaining stages of the peace process.

In a related development, UNOCI staff met yesterday with their colleagues from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) to identify challenges associated with the 1,000 microprojects programme.

Launched in 2008, the $4 million pilot initiative is designed to support the Government’s efforts to reintegrate ex-combatants. Some 2,700 people are working on 507 projects throughout the country under the programme, which is financed by the UN Peacebuilding Fund that was set up to help jump-start projects in countries emerging from conflict.

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