UN: UN envoy says election in Cote d’Ivoire opens new chapter

New York, US (PANA) - Cote d’Ivoire's peaceful conclusion of its presidential election provides citizens with the opportunity to turn the page, start a new chapter in their nation’s history
and consolidate achievements towards long-term stability, UN Special Representative
and head of the UN Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Ms. Aichatou Mindaoudou said Wednesday.

Briefing the UN Security Council in New York on the latest developments in the West African country, Ms. Mindaoudou said, "Cote d’Ivoire was put to the test through the holding of the presidential election."

She recalled that on 25 October 2015, the people of Cote d’Ivoire re-elected
President Alassane Ouattara to a second term in office, and the results
were validated by the Constitutional Council in an atmosphere of calm and order,
in stark contrast to 2010.

Ms. Mindaoudou noted that all observation missions – national, regional and international -
concurred that the results of the vote reflected the will of the voters, and that the
organization of the election was "transparent and credible.”

"Cote d’Ivoire is now the second largest economy in West Africa, a remarkable
recovery since the post-election crisis of 2010/2011, however, national reconciliation,
lags behind reconstruction and economic recovery.

"In this regard, I welcome President Ouattara's inauguration statement where he
indicated his determination to make national reconciliation a priority of his second
term," the UN envoy said.

Ms. Mindaoudou also said progress in the prosecution of alleged perpetrators
of crimes committed during the post-election crisis remains slow. She urged the
government to expedite investigations and prosecute all those alleged to have
committed atrocities regardless of political affiliation.

She also said she was encouraged by the participation of women in many public
forums and seminars, whether representing their political parties or generally
voicing their concerns on matters of national interest.

"It augurs well for an increased participation of women in future elections and
ultimately in decision-making positions, and I note, in this regard, the President's
intention to make women's empowerment a priority during his second term,"
she stressed.

Turning to security issues, the envoy said the electoral process was a test for
the Ivorian security forces, and that despite some short-comings, the national
police, gendarmerie and armed forces met the challenge.

According to her: "The security situation in Cote d’Ivoire remains stable with
violent crimes still on the downward trend since the last report.

"During the electoral period, no serious security incidents were reported by
the population, or the candidates, and armed robberies and banditry, however,
continue to be a challenge, as well as threats of terrorist attacks."

Regarding the border with Liberia, she reported that it remains closed as a
precaution against the Ebola Virus Disease, but information-sharing between
the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) and UNOCI has continued.

"Humanitarian corridors were also opened on 18 and 22 December to allow
for the voluntary repatriation of Ivorian refugees from Liberia, facilitated by
the UN refugee agency,"

Ms. Mindaoudou said that the authorized strength of the UNOCI Force stands
at 5,437 and that of the Police at 1,500, noting that it was ready to further
reduce the Force to 4,000 troops by 31 March.

To this end, she said a strategic review team will deploy in February to
develop recommendations on the further downsizing of UNOCI military and
police, and the future of the mission.

"Challenges remain in Cote d’Ivoire notwithstanding the successful holding
of the presidential election and the improving security situation on the ground.

"Progress to advance national reconciliation, the strengthening of the security
sector, and further improvements in the human rights situation and in
transitional justice are all key challenges facing Côte d’Ivoire on the path to
durable stability," she explained.

Recalling that legislative elections are expected next December, the envoy
said these elections are "crucial", and should involve the full political
spectrum in Cote d’Ivoire, as it will be an opportunity for the opposition to
participate and secure seats in the National Assembly, as per a 'vibrant
-0-   PANA   AA/AR   13Jan2016

13 january 2016 19:03:21

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