March 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 24 February 2006
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Côte d’Ivoire

Expected Council Action
In early March the Council will review the situation in Côte d’Ivoire in light of a briefing from the Secretariat.

The future of an infantry company from the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to Côte d’Ivoire, deployed in February, will also arise and these discussions may lead to a review of the tasks and the troop level of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) later in the month. A new resolution is possible.

Recent Developments

On 15 January the International Working Group on Côte d’Ivoire (IWG), the AU/UN mediating body, concluded that the Ivorian parliament, whose mandate had expired mid-December, should be dissolved as part of the transition to new elections. The ruling party, the Front populaire ivorien (FPI), accused the IWG and the UN of a “constitutional coup”.

A wave of violent protest against the UN followed, led by the Young Patriots (Jeunes patriotes) militia close to President Laurent Gbagbo. On 17 January, Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned what he called “orchestrated violence” against the UN. On 10 February, the UN sent Gbagbo a US$3.6 million bill for UN property and equipment damaged or lost during the January riots.

In January the Council condemned violence and attacks against the UN. It also dismissed the FPI objections and expressed support for the IWG decisions, ignoring representations from the Gbagbo government.

The mandate of UNOCI was extended until 15 December 2006. But no agreement was reached on increasing the troop level as recommended by the Secretary-General. The Council postponed discussions about possible reinforcement of UNOCI to coincide with those on the future of UNMIL, whose mandate expires on 31 March. Meanwhile, the Council authorised the redeployment of one infantry company from UNMIL to UNOCI, until 31 March.

Also in response to the violence, the Council implemented individual sanctions against two followers of President Gbagbo and one commander of the rebel New Forces (Forces nouvelles).

Key Issues
UNOCI’s troop levels will be the focus of March consultations. Resistance to a further increase will continue and the issue of security in Liberia will also be raised as a reason for caution about shifting troops and police units to Côte d’Ivoire.

Council Dynamics
With Ghana and Congo as new non-permanent members of the Council, dynamics on Côte d’Ivoire will certainly change. As a regional neighbour, Ghana has close connections with Côte d’Ivoire and has played a role in the peace process. Congo, which now holds the AU chairmanship, may want to take a more proactive role. All three African members are likely to be cautious about undermining hard-won security in Liberia by moving contingents too soon.

The majority of Council members are inclined to accept the Secretary-General’s recommendations to reinforce UNOCI by four battalions and three police units. But some members, especially the US (and perhaps Japan), may remain reluctant. France, however, seems determined to seek an additional deployment from UNMIL of, at a minimum, a battalion and a police unit. France is contributing some 4,000 troops in its national capacity authorised under Council resolutions to support UNOCI and is keen that the international community as a whole should bear more of the load.

Other options may include:

  • restoring the infantry company to UNMIL;
  • authorising the presence of the infantry company lent to UNOCI for a longer period;
  • authorising additional redeployments  from Liberia; or
  • increasing the UNOCI troop ceiling temporarily to cover the period ahead of elections scheduled for October 2006.

Underlying Problems

UNOCI’s lack of capacity to contain the January riots has been deplored by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Chief of Mission Pierre Schori.

The humanitarian situation in Côte d’Ivoire has deteriorated dramatically, especially since the withdrawal of peacekeepers and destruction of humanitarian support services during the January riots.

Human rights violations have continued. It still remains to be seen whether the Council will publish and address the mission report by the Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Juan Méndez, on his visit to Côte d’Ivoire. Indeed, the failure to consider and make public the 2004 report of a Council-mandated international commission of inquiry on serious violations of human rights has led to questions being raised on the ground, especially by members of civil society, about the value of UN investigations and the UN’s commitment to transparency.

Recent anonymous letters with threats of attacks on villages in the Zone of Confidence (dividing the government-controlled south and the rebel-held north) have been circulating in various parts of the country; the UN has been investigating.

With Congo now the new Chairman of the AU, the Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso will become part of the mediation though the Nigerian and South African presidents will most probably stay on to ensure continuity.

Most Recent UN Documents

 Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1657 (6 February 2006) authorised the deployment of an infantry company from UNMIL to UNOCI until 31 March 2006.
  • S/RES/1652 (24 January 2006) extended the mandate of UNOCI until 15 December 2006 and expressed the intention to review troop levels in March 2006.
 Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2006/9 (23 February 2006) reiterated full support for the IWG and the Prime Minister, urged the Ivorian state to facilitate the return of humanitarian agencies in the west and expressed the intention to review the implementation of resolution 1633 in March.
  • S/PRST/2006/2 (19 January 2006) strongly condemned the attacks against UNOCI.
 Secretary-General’s Report
 Letters to the President of the Council
  • S/2006/79 (7 February 2006) third IWG Communiqué
  • S/2006/71 (2 February 2006) letter from the Secretary-General noting his intention to temporarily redeploy up to one mechanised battalion and one police unit from UNMIL to UNOCI for an initial period of three months
  • S/2006/55 (30 January 2006) annual report of the 1572 sanctions committee
  • S/2006/50 (26 January 2006) final communiqué of a meeting between Obasanjo and the Ivorian authorities
  • S/2006/44 (24 January 2006) EU statement on the incidents in Côte d’Ivoire
  • S/2006/43 (23 January 2006) letter from Côte d’Ivoire on various misunderstandings on the implementation of resolution 1633
  • S/2006/21 (16 January 2006) letter from Côte d’Ivoire including the list of members of the new government
  • S/2005/829 (28 December 2005) EU statement on the appointment of a new prime minister in Côte d’Ivoire

Other Relevant Facts

 Special Representative of the Secretary-General
 Pierre Schori (Sweden)
 High Representative for the Elections
 António Monteiro (Portugal)
 Size and Composition of Mission
  • Authorised Strength (24 June 2005 – 24 January 2006): 7,090 military personnel and 725 police officers
  • Current Strength as of 31 January 2006: 7,594 total uniformed personnel
  • Key Troop Contributing Countries: Bangladesh, Morocco, Ghana and Pakistan
 1 July 2005 – 30 June 2006: $438.17 million

Full forecast