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UN's Ivorian operation takes steps to resolve status of millions of voters missing from list

16 October 2009 – The United Nations top envoy to the Côte d’Ivoire is slated to hold a series of meetings next week in a bid to jump-start a critical step threatening to disrupt the nation’s much-delayed presidential elections, scheduled for late next month.

The initiative aims to give new impetus to efforts which would lead to the posting of the final voter list for the Côte d’Ivoire’s long-awaited polls, which were to have been held as far back as 2005 and are now scheduled for 29 November.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Special Representative Young-Jin Choi plans to focus on the case of more than 2.75 million people who had registered during the identification and voter registration process but cannot be found in any of the historical files.

Mr. Choi, who heads the UN peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), encouraged all concerned to continue efforts in tackling other urgent matters such as the logistical preparations for the posting of the electoral list, the printing of ballot papers and the updating of the electoral map, UNOCI spokesperson Hamadoun Touré told reporters in Abidjan, the capital of Côte d’Ivoire.

In his report earlier this week to the Security Council on UNOCI, the Secretary-General said the remaining weeks until the much-anticipated polls are fraught with major obstacles, including disarmament of militias and reintegration of former rebels.

On Tuesday, the Council welcomed the completion of the identification and registration of more than 6.5 million Ivorians, and urged all parties to “resolve differences in the spirit of reconciliation and dialogue,” according to a press statement read out by Le Luong Minh, Permanent Representative of Viet Nam, which holds the body’s rotating monthly presidency.

In related news, Mr. Touré announced a four-day UNOCI military operation, codenamed “Umbrella 2,” which kicked off today in western Côte d’Ivoire. The manoeuvres are aimed at testing the Force’s capacity to carry out its task of providing security during the elections. The first phase of this operation, “Umbrella 1,” was carried out in the Bangolo area in September.

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