September 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 31 August 2006
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Côte d’Ivoire

Expected Council Action
The next Secretary-General’s report is expected to confirm that there has been insufficient progress in implementing the roadmap, established by the Council, for the elections to be held as scheduled on 31 October. The Council is likely to:

  • await the proposed meeting in late September, during the General Assembly, between the Secretary-General, the Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and AU leaders before adopting a definitive response to the situation;
  • signal in the interim the importance of maintaining calm and progress with the roadmap (perhaps in a presidential statement or perhaps in an early resolution adopting targeted sanctions against additional individuals responsible for blocking the roadmap’s progress and for spreading hate messages in the media; and renewing the mandate for the Group of Experts monitoring the sanctions regime, which will expire on 15 September).

Council members are also expected to begin discussing contingency plans for a definitive response to the anticipated formal postponement of the presidential elections.
Council members will also have in mind that the mandate of UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) will expire on 15 December.

Key Recent Developments
On 23 August the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Côte d’Ivoire, Pierre Schori, advised the media that for technical reasons relating to non-compliance with the roadmap, it was no longer possible in practice to hold an election on 31 October.

Tensions between the Forces nouvelles rebels and government forces had already been mounting, anticipating that the 31 October election may be delayed. President Gbagbo-whose term has already expired and who is currently in office only on a transitional basis-claims that he and the parliament would remain in office until the next presidential and legislative elections. The leader of the Forces nouvelles, Guillaume Soro, has rejected this assertion.

On 7 August the Council welcomed the progress made in implementing the roadmap but expressed concern at the lack of deployment throughout the country of the Independent Electoral Commission’s structures and condemned July’s violent protests directed at the mobile courts. The Council also set a benchmark for 150 mobile courts to be deployed throughout the country and the cantonment of combatants to be completed before the end of August.

Because too few weapons were being surrendered, the disarmament process for pro-government militia groups in the west was temporarily suspended on 4 August.

The Council has the following options in early September:

  • adopting a presidential statement keeping up the pressure on the parties in advance of the high-level meeting in New York in September;
  • increasing deterrents against spoilers by imposing additional sanctions against individuals blocking the peace process and adopting a resolution transferring additional troops and police units from the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to reinforce UNOCI; and
  • beginning an open discussion of the consequential issues from postponement of the election, including the status of President Gbagbo.

Key Issues
The most significant issue is how to handle the practical reality that the elections will not be possible on 31 October. The dilemma for the Council is whether to act immediately to deter backwards movement, in light of the fact that implementation of the roadmap has been seriously compromised, or to defer to the outcome of the high-level meeting in late September. A related issue is how to maximise the incentives for positive outcomes from that meeting.

The issues involved if the Council moves quickly to undertake responsible contingency planning in light of the inevitable formal postponement of the election are complex.

  • The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Juan Méndez, has warned about the inherent fragility of the situation in Côte d’Ivoire.
  • In terms of setting a new date, an assessment of the time needed to complete identification and disarmament throughout the country will be necessary.
  • There is a question of whether the current transitional political arrangements (made through resolution 1633 of 2005 and previous peace agreements) should remain the same or whether an adjustment of the power sharing will be needed. (If those responsible for obstruction of the roadmap are punished it would imply some further diminution of the executive powers of President Laurent Gbagbo and the influence of the current parliament.)
  • The degree of involvement of the UN and the Council in future processes will need to be considered. The Security Council has, for most of 2006, tended to follow the recommendations of the AU and play a supportive role. The recent obstruction of the roadmap raises the issue of whether the Council should again play a more proactive role to avoid a further postponement of the elections.

Finally, an issue that might arise is a transfer of troops from UNMIL to UNOCI in order to support the disarmament programme once it is launched at the national level, as already recommended by the Secretary-General. The UNMIL mandate will expire on 30 September, and a battalion might be withdrawn by the end of the year. The Council might consider transferring these troops to Côte d’Ivoire.

Council Dynamics
Some Council members seem ready to begin discussion of contingency plans immediately, including on the period for postponement. There are views that the period should be long enough to complete the roadmap, but short enough to avoid giving the Ivorian parties a pretext to slow down the process, in any event significantly less than a year.

With respect to the renewal of President Gbagbo’s mandate there are various views. Some Council members are in favour of an alteration of the power equilibrium in favour of the prime minister, and perhaps some changes in the mediation. Other members prefer a simple rollover of the current arrangements with no modification, believing that any change could trigger a negative impact on the peace process.

On the issue of sanctions, even the most reluctant Council members are now coming to the view that additional targeted sanctions have proved to have some effectiveness for the political process. They remain wary, though, about targeting important political figures, believing that this would impair the peace process. There is unlikely to be any disagreement about renewing the mandate of the advisory Group of Experts.

There is growing support for an increased role for the Council in the management of the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, with the International Working Group (IWG) playing more of a local monitoring role.

The US had been reluctant to shift troops from the UN Mission in Liberia to Côte d’Ivoire, because of destabilisation risks in Liberia, especially while Charles Taylor was still in Africa. With Taylor’s extradition to The Hague in June 2006, it remains to be seen what position the US will adopt on that issue.

Underlying Problems
An estimated 3.5 million people do not have identity papers in Côte d’Ivoire; this includes 1.8 million people of voting age who therefore cannot vote. In fact, the question of national identity is at the core of the conflict since many of those without papers are from the north and considered foreign.

Some of President Gbagbo’s followers oppose the identification process because they fear they could lose the next elections. The rebels, on their part, fear increasing insecurity after they disarm. Therefore, the Forces nouvelles have insisted that identification of the entire population be completed before the collection of weapons, while the national armed forces wanted the identification of combatants to be conducted during the pre-cantonment stage. On 9 August, Guillaume Soro said the rebel side was pulling out of disarmament talks in protest against Gbagbo’s position on disarmament and the handing out of identity papers.

One issue remaining to be addressed is the fact that there are not enough Ivorian judges to conduct the identification. Another lingering problem is the shortage of UN troops to perform disarmament operations.

Missing the 31 October deadline will increase the risk of renewed hostilities. The Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, Juan Méndez, who visited Côte d’Ivoire at the end of 2005, stated that the ethnic orientation of the conflict could lead to “massive and serious violations of human rights.”

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UN Documents

 Most Recent Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1682 (2 June 2006) increased the strength of UNOCI by 1,500 personnel.
  • S/RES/1652 (24 January 2006) extended UNOCI’s mandate to 15 December 2006.
  • S/RES/1633 (21 October 2005) endorsed the decision of the AU Peace and Security Council of 6 October 2005, extended President Gbagbo’s term by 12 months, established the roadmap to be supervised by the IWG, called for the designation of a prime minister and reaffirmed its readiness to impose sanctions.
 Selected Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2006/37 (7 August 2006) condemned the July disturbances, reaffirmed its support for the implementation of targeted sanctions, encouraged the prime minister to take action to deploy 150 mobile courts before the next IWG meeting and called on the IWG to monitor such progress.
  • S/PRST/2006/32 (19 July 2006) welcomed the Yamoussoukro meeting of Ivorian leaders, requested the Secretary-General to produce a report on the implementation of the parties’ commitments before a subsequent meeting in September, underlined the Council’s readiness to impose targeted measures and endorsed the eighth communiqué of the IWG.
 Most Recent Secretary-General’s Report
  • S/2006/532 (18 July 2006) was the latest report in which the Secretary-General stressed the need for targeted sanctions as a way for the international community to exercise pressure to move the peace process forward.
 Selected Letters
  • S/2006/584(27 July 2006) was the ninth IWG communiqué

For Historical Background please refer to our 1 December 2005 Update Report.

Other Relevant Facts

 Special Representative of the Secretary-General

 Pierre Schori (Sweden)

 High Representative for the Elections

 Gérard Stoudmann (Switzerland)

 Size and Composition of UNOCI

  1. Authorised strength since 2 June 2006: 8,115 military personnel and 1,200 police officers
  2. Current strength as of 6 July 2006: 6,896 military personnel and 728 police officers. The reinforcements authorised under resolution 1682 were deployed in July 2006.
  3. Key troop-contributing countries: Bangladesh, Morocco, Ghana and Pakistan


 1 July 2006 – 30 June 2007: $438.17 million

 UNOCI Mandate Expiration

 15 December 2006 (S/RES/1652)

 Current Political Arrangements as Defined in S/RES/1633 (2005)

  • President Gbagbo remaining in power for a maximum of twelve months after his term ended on 30 October 2005
  • The appointment of a new prime minister acceptable to all parties with executive powers
  • The establishment of a roadmap supervised by an International Working Group responsible for the evaluation and monitoring of the peace process
  • A new type of mediation to be conducted daily by a subgroup of the IWG composed of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Côte d’Ivoire, the Secretary-General’s High Representative for the elections, ECOWAS and the AU
  • The implementation without delay of the disarmament and dismantling of government militias and of the rebels throughout the territory, and of the identification process
  • The end to all incitement to hatred and violence in the media
  • Investigation by Ivorian authorities of human rights violations
  • The strengthening of the threat of sanctions against individual spoilers

 Previous Agreements

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