Konare asks African leaders to salvage Ivorian peace process

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson Alpha Oumar Konare Tuesday appealed to the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) meeting here at heads of state level to ensure the success of the peace process in Cote d'Ivoire.
Noting that it was impossible to organise presidential elections in the troubled West African country by 31 October 2006 as originally envisaged, Konare said the 15-member Council should agree on new arrangements and measures to be put in place for the Ivorian peace process.
During the one-day session the PSC is taking stock of the situation in Cote d'Ivoire following the 6 October 2006 extraordinary summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) that recommended a one-year extension of the mandate of President Laurent Gbagbo.
While commending the efforts of the Ivorian government to accelerate the implementation of the country's roadmap to settle the four-year old crisis, ECOWAS leaders deplored the various constraints and delays that made it impossible for the elections to be held as scheduled.
In recommending a new transition period, commencing on 1 November 2006, the ECOWAS leaders were of the view that it would make it possible to complete identification and registration of voters, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration as well as restructuring of the Armed Forces.
During the same period, the Ivorian peace process calls for dismantling of the militias, restoration of State authority throughout the country, and completion of technical preparations for the elections.
It is estimated that about 3.
5 million Ivorians and foreigners in the country do not have birth certificates.
The decision to simultaneously undertake the identification and the establishments of the voters' rolls requires coordination of the different structures involved in these operations by the Office of the Prime Minister.
The ECOWAS summit also agreed to submit their recommendations to the PSC for formal approval.
Diplomatic sources here however see Gbagbo as a stumbling block in the whole Ivorian peace process.
"The crisis in Cote d'Ivoire is of Gbagbo's own creation," one African diplomat told PANA, adding that the president wanted to cling to power by all means.
Cote d'Ivoire has remained a dichotomised country since the 2002 military attempt to overthrow Gbagbo's government with rebels, popularly known as Forces Nouvelles, controlling the northern half of the state.
In a speech marking the 46th independence anniversary of Cote d'Ivoire on 6 August 2006, Gbagbo stated that the country was plunged into a deep crisis because Ivorians agreed to wage war against their own country.
In reaction to the president's address, the Forces Nouvelles have since withdrawn from the dialogue they had with the government forces, holding Gbagbo solely responsible for the impasse in the peace process.
According to Konare's report to the PSC, ECOWAS has recommended that Gbagbo should remain Head of State while Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny "should have full and unfettered authority to implement activities emanating from the recommendations of the ECOWAS summit of 30 September 2005.
" The premier should also have the necessary authority over the defence and security forces in order to achieve the tasks assigned to him.
Both Gbagbo and Banny have been invited to the PSC meeting in Addis Ababa.
The PSC comprises Algeria, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo Republic, Ethiopia, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda.
Leaders who had by late Monday confirmed their attendance of the PSC session included Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, Sassou Nguesso of Congo, Mbingu wa Mutharika of Malawi, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, Omar Bongo of Gabon and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia.

17 october 2006 08:42:00




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