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Ban calls for calm in Côte d'Ivoire after Government, electoral commission dissolved

16 February 2010 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on the people of Côte d'Ivoire to avoid any action that could cause renewed violence in the divided West African country after the Government and independent electoral authority were dissolved ahead of repeatedly delayed elections.

The elections, intended to reunify a country split into a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south by civil war in 2002, were originally scheduled for as far back as 2005, have been continually postponed since, most recently from 29 November, and were slated for next month.

“The Secretary-General urges the Ivorian people to remain calm and avoid resorting to any action that could cause renewed violence,” according to a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesman last night.

“He also calls on the Ivorian political leaders and other national stakeholders to exercise restraint, avoid measures that could return the country to instability, and resolve the current challenges related to the already repeatedly delayed elections through dialogue, within the framework of the Ouagadougou Peace Agreements,” it added, referring to a 2007 blueprint for political reconciliation forged in the capital of neighbouring Burkina Faso.

Mr. Ban and his Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire Y. J. Choi are consulting with stakeholders, and Mr. Choi yesterday met with Prime Minister Guillaume Soro to stress the need to resolve mounting political tensions after voter registration was suspended and President Laurent Gbagbo dissolved the Government and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

“I'm confident that with their refined sense of politics and culture of non-violence, Ivorians will be able to find a solution calmly and quickly,” Mr. Choi said.

The UN Mission in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), which Mr. Choi also leads, was set up in 2004 to help ensure a ceasefire and pave the way for permanent peace and democratic elections. Reauthorized repeatedly since then, most recently until 31 May, it currently comprises over 8,500 uniformed personnel, as well as 400 international civilian staff.

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