May 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 27 April 2006
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Côte d’Ivoire

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to adopt a resolution increasing the troop level of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).

In late May, the Group of Experts is expected to report orally on the implementation of the arms and diamonds embargo to the Sanctions Committee. Unless there is information on clear violations of the embargo, it seems unlikely that the Council will adopt new sanctions.

In May, the Council has the following options:

  • adopting the resolution currently circulated by France to increase the level of UNOCI by 1,671 troops, including police units;
  • adopting a resolution temporarily transferring troops from the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to UNOCI if security deteriorates;
  • imposing additional sanctions on individuals responsible for spreading messages in the media to incite hatred and violence (if there are new reports of such activities); or
  • imposing sanctions against individuals responsible for violating the arms and diamonds embargo.

Council Dynamics
France, which has taken the lead role on Côte d’Ivoire, is pushing for an increase in the troop level of UNOCI as well as additional police units. The French proposal involves a phased approach to reach the optimum level recommended by the Secretary-General, an increase of 4,000 troops.

During consultations prior to the 31 March adoption of resolution 1667, which extended the mandate of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), the United States resisted extending the presence in Côte d’Ivoire of the infantry company loaned from UNMIL in February. In exchange for the return of the company to Liberia, the US agreed to consider an increase in UNOCI’s troop level of between 1,500 and 2,000 troops, and to consider temporary deployment of some troops from UNMIL subsequently if the security situation in Côte d’Ivoire deteriorates. However, the necessary approval by the US Congress to commit more troops in Côte d’Ivoire is likely to determine the timing of the adoption of the draft resolution.

Recent Developments
The identification and registration of voters and the distribution of electoral identity cards, a priority highlighted by the Secretary-General in his latest report as well as by the IWG, has been delayed. Around three million Ivorians do not have nationality documents or voting cards. At the February meeting among Ivorian leaders, it had been decided that the identification process would go hand-in-hand with establishing voting cards. At the end of March, this decision seems to have been reversed by Gbagbo, who stated that the voters lists dating from the 2000 presidential elections could be used for the coming elections and that identification should be conducted after the polls.

The disarmament of pro-government militias in the south and rebels in the north is the other step required before the elections. Disarmament talks among rebels and army chiefs started at the beginning of April. The chairman of the AU, Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso, acted as a mediator in these talks and proposed that both disarmament and identification be conducted in parallel. On 8 April, Banny, Gbagbo, rebel Forces Nouvelles leader Guillaume Soro and the two main opposition leaders approved this solution. But a week later, Gbagbo shifted ground and maintained that the Forces Nouvelles rebels had to hand in their guns before any voter cards would be issued.

In response to Gbagbo’s reversal of position the IWG issued a communiqué on 20 April confirming the agreement to conduct disarmament and voter identification in parallel and insisting also that electoral lists could only be established through the identification process. The communiqué also referred to the continuing obstruction of the movement of the impartial forces (which include the UN peacekeepers and the French forces), as was already noted in the most recent Secretary-General’s report.  The IWG commented that this was in violation of Council resolutions 1633 and 1643, and it invited the Sanctions Committee to identify the individuals responsible.  (At press time it was expected that the Council would adopt a presidential statement on 27 April expressing support for the IWG position.)

Secretary-General Kofi Annan reiterated, in a 22 March letter to the president of the Council, that despite some positive developments in Côte d’Ivoire, the security situation remained precarious and could worsen, especially in Abidjan and the western part of the country. Annan again called for an increase in UNOCI’s troop level by four battalions (3,400 men) and three police units (375 officers). The Secretary-General’s latest report on Côte d’Ivoire, published 11 April, reiterated this recommendation, emphasising that the unravelling of the security situation could spill over to neighbouring countries, especially Liberia.

On 31 March, the Council did not extend the presence of the infantry company that had been transferred from Liberia to UNOCI in February. In resolution 1667, the Council agreed instead to consider further redeployments from Liberia to Côte d’Ivoire on a temporary basis and expressed its intention to increase the troop level of UNOCI by the end of April.

UN peacekeepers who had been forced to abandon their positions in western Côte d’Ivoire during the January 2006 riots were redeployed to that region in April.

Key Issues
The first issue for the Council is to decide on the draft resolution that France circulated to all Council members on 17 April. Defining the numbers and tasks of the additional troops for UNOCI will be key in reaching an agreement on the resolution. The proposed 1,671 additional uniformed personnel would include 475 police officers, gendarmes to protect the members of the government and members of the Ivorian Electoral Commission, an infantry battalion for Abidjan and an infantry company for the west.

Given the delays in implementing the roadmap to the elections, Council members appear willing to send a strong signal to Ivorian parties that they have to make all efforts to meet the 31 October deadline for the elections. In this regard, the Council will want to ensure that the disarmament and identification processes are conducted in parallel.

The Council remains concerned about the dissemination of messages inciting hatred and violence in the local media. UNOCI continues to provide monthly reports to the Sanctions Committee on that issue, and the Council stands ready to impose additional sanctions on individuals.

Underlying Problems
In his latest report, the Secretary-General expressed concern at the delays in the preparations for the elections. Indeed, Prime Minister Banny has already warned of the possibility the 31 October deadline will be missed.

The Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration programme will be difficult to implement given the rebels’ reluctance to give up arms. In addition, the Ivorian parties failed to agree on a timeline. The DDR programme targets about 42,000 former combatants of the rebel Forces Nouvelles, 5,000 soldiers in the national army, and 12,000 militia members loyal to President Gbagbo in the west.

The Council has held the view that the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire must remain inclusive of all parties. The 29 March presidential statement reflected the broad support among Council members for the role being played in the peace process by the new Ivorian prime minister, Charles Konan Banny. But there now seems to be a growing divergence between Banny and Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo. On issues such as extending the National Assembly’s mandate and the simultaneity of disarmament and voter identification, Gbagbo appears to be moving in a different direction.

Most Recent UN Documents

 Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1667 (31 March 2006) extended the mandate of UNMIL, reaffirmed its intention to deploy troops between UNMIL and UNOCI and to review the tasks and troop level of UNOCI.
  • S/RES/1657 (6 February 2006) authorised the deployment of an infantry company from UNMIL to UNOCI until 31 March.· 
  • S/RES/1652 (24 January 2006) extended the mandate of UNOCI until 15 December and expressed the intention to review troop levels in March 2006.
 Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2006/14 (29 March 2006) welcomed progress achieved in recent weeks and reiterated concern with the security situation.
  • S/PRST/2006/9 (23 February 2006) reiterated full support for the IWG and the Ivorian prime minister, urged the Ivorian state to facilitate the return of humanitarian agencies in the west of the country, 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
Sanctions Committee Reports
  • S/2006/204 (31 March 2006) was an update report pursuant to resolution 1632, requesting the Group of Experts to submit a brief written update to the Council on the implementation of the arms embargo before 1 December 2005.
  • S/2006/55 (30 January 2006) annual report of the Sanctions Committee
  • S/2005/790 (15 December 2005) report of the mission to Côte d’Ivoire by the Sanctions Committee chairman Adamantios Vassilakis (Greece)
  • S/2005/699 (7 November 2005) report of the Group of Experts
 Letters to the President of the Council
  • S/2006/190 (29 March 2006) fifth IWG communiqué
  • S/2006/184 (22 March 2006) letter from the Secretary-General reiterating the need for an increase in UNOCI’s strength
  • S/2006/135 (28 February 2006) appointment of the five new experts in the Sanctions Committee
  • S/2006/131 (27 February 2006) fourth IWG communiqué
  • 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 troops and police units from UNMIL to UNOCI for an initial period of three months
  • S/2006/50 (26 January 2006) final communiqué of a meeting between Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and Ivorian leaders
  • 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

Other Relevant Facts

 Special Representative of the Secretary-General
 Pierre Schori (Sweden)
 High Representative for the Elections
 Gérard Stoudmann (Switzerland)
 Size and Composition of Mission
  • Authorised strength since June 2005: 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

For key facts, historical background and a more comprehensive list of UN documents, please refer to our January 2006 Forecast Report.

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