- The UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says Côte d’Ivoire has reached a critical stage where reunification and elections are the only options for the West Africa state out of its political instability.
The country’s presidential election was originally scheduled for October 2005, but postponed a number of times due to a division between the rebel north and government-controlled south, separated by a buffer zone patrolled by UN and French peacekeepers.
Mr Ban Ki-moon has called for a realistic timetable for the holding of credible and transparent elections in the Côte d'Ivoire, as a matter of urgency, in his latest report on the highly divided state.
He said that elections will bring to a successful conclusion to the current transitional arrangement in the West African country, which has been divided since 2002.
He noted that in the two years since the signing of the Ouagadougou Agreement in March 2007, significant progress had been made towards restoring the country to peace and security.
Under the accord, the former Ivorian rebel leader Guillaume Soro became prime minister in a national unity government.
However, the former Ivorian rebels have called on their leader Mr Soro to quit the prime minister’s post and distance himself from the government, after accusing the government of stalling the processes leading to elections as prescribed in the peace agreement in 2007.
Despite local reports noting delayed voter registration, Mr Ban said the ongoing process to identify the population and register voters, technical preparations for the elections, the improvement in the human rights throughout the country and a recovering economy were additional signs of return to normalcy.
He said a failure to resolve their current differences and a continuing lack of clarity on a new date for the elections would adversely affect the future of the country and prolong the suffering of the Ivorian people.
The Secretary-General underlined the importance for the IEC to make public, without further delay, a realistic and comprehensive electoral timeline with clear milestones.
The IEC has so far only identified 5.5 million people, out of an estimated eight million eligible voters.
Côte d'Ivoire, a leading cocoa and diamond exporter in west Africa, was split in two after a botched coup attempt by New Forces (FN) rebels in 2002, with the north remaining under FN control.
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