- The UN Security Council has extended the mandate of its peacekeeping mission in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) by six months, ahead of the country's landmark 30 November general elections.
UN reports show that the mission is expected to assist the West African country to conduct the much delayed presidential elections in a free and fair way, as well as support its armed forces until 31 January 2009.
"The 15 member-panel asked the mission to provide logistical support to national Independent Electoral Commission as it prepares to hold first round of presidential elections set to take place later this year," the UN report said.
The mission has called on UNOCI to continue its support of implementing the 2007 Ouagadougou peace agreement and political accord, reached in neighbouring Burkina Faso, which aims to reconcile the Côte d'Ivoire government and rebel forces and is to end up in general elections and the return of political stabilty.
Côte d'Ivoire had prepared for the holding of presidential polls as far back as 2005, but elections were delayed on several occasions due conflicts between the government controlled south and rebels forces in northern part of country in 2002, in addition to disagreements between the government and the political opposition.
UNOCI has pledged to help in the identification process of voters ahead of the elections, which has proven a core conflict among the parties.
The resolution by the Security Council plans to encourage the Forces Nouvelles - the northern-based militia - and the national defence and security forces to develop a joint structure; and to ensure security at elections, in consultation with the mission and French military forces stationed in the country.
Ivorian political parties and groups have been urged to make further progress in their reconciliation process, which includes dismantling militias, demobilising and disarming former fighters, restoring state authority across country and registering voters before polls.
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