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Technical difficulties could delay long-awaited Ivorian polls - UN envoy

1 October 2009 – The top United Nations official in Cote d’Ivoire warned today that technical difficulties may adversely affect the timeline for the country’s long-awaited presidential elections, which were to have been held as far back as 2005, and are now scheduled for 29 November.

Young-Jin Choi, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), said that two months have already been lost, but he noted some successful political developments, such as the establishment of mobile court hearings across the country and the end of voter registration.

He noted that there is now a very optimistic atmosphere in Côte d’Ivoire, with a very strong electoral momentum that would be difficult to break. “The election is just around the corner and you can even feel it,” he said in an interview with UN Radio.

UNOCI has been providing technical and logistical support for preparations for the elections, including for voter identification and registration.

More than 6.5 million people have been registered for the upcoming polls, a key element of the agreement for political reconciliation in the West African country, which was divided in 2002 between the Government-controlled south and the rebel Forces Nouvelles-held north.

In his recent report on UNOCI, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that the weeks remaining until the elections are fraught with major obstacles, including disarmament of militias and reintegration of former rebels.

These “uncompleted tasks” could “create serious risks for the elections if they are not carefully managed, and, beyond the elections, adversely affect the prevailing stability,” Mr. Ban stated, calling for the parties to maintain dialogue and compromise in the run-up to the elections.

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