Expected Council Action
The Secretary-General’s quarterly report on the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) is expected to draw the Council’s attention again to the need for an increase in the number of troops and police units in Côte d’Ivoire. The Council may make some moves to respond positively to this concern, given some progress on the ground.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) became operational on 7 March after a prolonged conflict over its composition, which rendered it idle. A fourth vice-presidential position was created to solve this problem. Since 15 July 2005, the IEC has been headed by Antonio Monteiro, the UN High Representative for the Elections in Côte d’Ivoire, appointed by the Secretary-General. He is leaving this post at the end of March, having originally agreed to stay on for only about three months, until the election then planned for 31 October 2005. His successor has not been named yet, raising fears of further delays in the electoral process.
On 28 February, the four key players in the Ivorian conflict held their first direct talks since the war broke out in 2002. Under the aegis of Interim Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny, the talks included President Laurent Gbagbo, rebel leader Guillaume Soro (Forces nouvelles) and the two main opposition leaders, Henri Konan Bédié (Parti démocratique de Côte d’Ivoire) and Alassane Ouattara (Rassemblement des républicains). While the parties did not reach a formal agreement or a timeline for the disarmament process, their final Communiqué stated that Council resolution 1633 did not contradict the Ivorian constitution and it endorsed the new makeup of the IEC. The parties agreed to meet frequently.
In March, Soro attended his first cabinet meeting in his capacity as minister for reconstruction and rehabilitation.
In late February, a few incidents occurred involving provocations by the Ivorian armed forces (FANCI) toward the French Licorne forces around the village of Bouéneu, located southwest of the zone of confidence that divides the country between the rebel-controlled north and the government-ruled south. Ivorian troops reportedly also attacked villagers as a reprisal for their having allowed the French troops to stay in the village. The UN Secretariat informed the Council of these incidents during consultations on 8 March. This issue was discussed by the Sanctions Committee and a press release was issued on 16 March. The Committee considered that these events resulted in “obstacles to the freedom of movement of impartial forces, contrary to paragraph 4 of resolution 1643 (2005)” and requested the Ivorian authorities to provide explanations.
A report by the Human Rights Division of UNOCI warned in March of the deteriorating human rights situation in Côte d’Ivoire, emphasising the danger of the local media spreading messages of hatred and violence. The Secretary-General, in a 22 March letter to the President of the Council, reiterated the need for an increase in the troop level and police units.
The main issue for the Council is to increase security in the most sensitive zones of Côte d’Ivoire, especially in Abidjan and in the northwest of the country. If discussions in March fail to produce a raise in UNOCI’s troop level and police units or additional troop transfers from the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), then these discussions will most probably continue in April. An infantry company has already been transferred from UNMIL for a period ending on 31 March.
Another issue of crucial importance is the continued implementation of the roadmap leading to the presidential elections, now scheduled for 31 October 2006. The neutrality of the Radio Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI), the progress of the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) process and the identification and registration of voters remain issues of concern to Council members.
The developments with the IEC and the recent political events are widely seen within the Council as positive developments boding well for the peace process and the preparation for the elections.
Coupled with these encouraging developments is a clear deterioration in the security situation in some areas of the country, which may be having an impact on Council dynamics in terms of willingness to discuss increases in UNOCI’s troop level and police units.
The choice between increasing the troop level and transferring troops from Liberia depends on various factors. The US remains reluctant to take troops and police from UNMIL due to concern for stability in Liberia. France favours the option of troop transfers because it is a less costly way to boost the troop level in Côte d’Ivoire.
For France, which has taken the lead on Côte d’Ivoire, the priorities are security and a DDR process that should be completed before elections can be held. It also seems that France is increasingly concerned about the continuous incitement to hatred and violence in the media and may advocate additional sanctions.
The Council has the following options:
Holding consultations to discuss recommendations made in the Secretary-General’s report, but taking no further action.
Adopting a presidential statement urging the Ivorian parties to increase their efforts toward implementing the roadmap to peace and elections.
Adopting a resolution increasing UNOCI’s troop level and more firmly addressing the need to meet the various benchmarks set in the roadmap.
Including, in a statement or a resolution, language addressing the possible sanctions implications of recent negative developments.
There are fears that the IEC might not be able to function properly. Indeed, its members all have an interest in controlling this key institution and disagreements over the electoral process are likely to arise. The parties would have to resort to a qualified voting system and, if the situation remains blocked, the UN Special Envoy for the Elections would have the last word.
Most Recent UN Documents
|Security Council Resolutions|
|Letters to the President of the Council|
Other Relevant Facts
|Special Representative of the Secretary-General|
|Pierre Schori (Sweden)|
|High Representative for the Elections|
|To be nominated (Antonio Monteiro of Portugal is scheduled to leave the post at the end of March).|
|Size and Composition of Mission|
|1 July 2005 – 30 June 2006: $438.17 million|