October 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 28 September 2006
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Côte d’Ivoire

Expected Council Action
In October, the Council will receive recommendations from the African Union on the future of the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire. The AU is expected to receive proposals from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on 4 October and from the International Working Group (IWG), which is the body in charge of following the peace process. Based on those recommendations, the Council will discuss its approach to the instability afflicting the country. It is likely to adopt a resolution setting a new deadline for the presidential elections and possibly making new arrangements for the peace process.

The Secretary-General will also submit his report on the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), whose mandate will expire on 15 December.

Key Recent Developments
In late August the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire, Pierre Schori, announced that presidential elections could not be held by 31 October due to technical reasons relating to non-compliance with the roadmap. Since then, the situation in Côte d’Ivoire has deteriorated. The elections in Côte d’Ivoire were first postponed in October 2005 by one year with resolution 1633, which also established institutional arrangements for the interim period. (Please see our 1 December 2005 Update Report and September 2006 Forecast for more details).

Following the announcement, Ivorian Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny organised a summit in Yamoussoukro to decide on the future of the peace process with President Laurent Gbagbo, rebel leader Guillaume Soro and the two main opposition leaders, Alassane Ouattara and Henri Konan Bédié. There were no concrete results as President Gbagbo’s opponents strongly rejected his determination to remain in power until elections are held.

On 8 September, the IWG recommended that the UN take measures in order to move the process forward by:

  • defining new “institutional and governance arrangements”;
  • adopting a new resolution reinforcing the exercise of powers of the prime minister and allowing a greater involvement of the international community in the implementation of the roadmap; and
  • imposing sanctions against individuals blocking the peace process.

Because these proposals, if carried out, would considerably reduce the power of the president, tensions between President Gbagbo and the UN increased. Talking to the press, Gbagbo stated that:

  • he will remain in office until a next president is elected;
  • he will oppose the suspension of any constitutional provisions;
  • time for proposals and negotiations are over; and
  • he will submit proposals for a new peace process to the African Union. There are reports that the proposals may include demands for the departure of the impartial forces (UNOCI and the French Licorne forces). (Côte d’Ivoire’s ruling party, the Ivorian Popular Front [Front populaire ivoirien, or FPI] already called for the departure of French peacekeepers and the dissolution of the IWG.)

Gbagbo boycotted the UN General Assembly meeting. He also refused to participate in the 20 September mini-summit in New York between the Secretary-General, regional leaders and Ivorian opposition leaders that was aimed at evaluating ways to implement the peace plan. The Secretary-General believes that the current institutional arrangements should be reinforced and made effective in order to avoid indefinite postponement of the elections. No statement was issued after the meeting, but it seems that he would be in favour of:

  • prolonging the mandate of the Ivorian president by another year, which he deemed as the amount of time needed to implement the roadmap;
  • giving more executive powers to the prime minister as well as the means to carry them out;
  • reinforcing the mandate and size of UNOCI because of growing security risks;
  • reinforcing the mandate of the High Representative for the elections; and
  • suspending all constitutional provisions that are incompatible with the implementation of the peace process.

The South African mediator, President Thabo Mbeki, opposed any decision in the absence of the Ivorian president. Therefore, the summit failed to bring solutions to the current deadlock.

Another important development was the blockage by China and Russia on 18 September of proposed sanctions against two influential political leaders close to Gbagbo, Mamadou Koulibaly, the speaker of the National Assembly, and Pascal Affi N’Guessan, the chairman of the ruling FPI, who were held responsible for delaying the national identification programme.

The Council’s options will depend on the proposals of the African Union. While it is expected that ECOWAS will make recommendations following the Secretary-General’s approach, the AU may dilute them as it will have to take into account President Gbagbo’s proposals for a new peace process. Gbagbo’s proposals may include demands for the replacement of the current international forces by AU forces. South African mediator Thabo Mbeki may support a solution preferred by Gbagbo. It remains to be seen whether the AU would support this type of proposal.

The Council, therefore, has the following options:

  • fully support the AU recommendations;
  • renew for one year the current arrangements;
  • prolong the mandate of the Ivorian president by one year while changing the current institutional arrangements, thereby granting additional executive powers to the prime minister and asking for a suspension of the constitution;
  • impose additional sanctions against individuals blocking the peace process; and
  • adopt a resolution transferring additional troops and police units from the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to reinforce UNOCI.

Key Issues
The main issue for the Council is to determine how best to salvage the current peace process. Providing the prime minister with the necessary power to resume the disarmament and the national identification processes, and exercising further pressure on those blocking the process is an option. But this may trigger violence, especially if the president is further deprived of his prerogatives, as the Young Patriots (the militants in favour of the president) say they are ready to take over the streets. Renewing the current arrangements for 12 months may prevent violence but may also play in favour of the status quo, with the risk of further entrenching Gbagbo and delaying elections.

A related issue is the degree of involvement of the UN and the Council. For most of the year, the Council has tended to follow the recommendations of the AU and play a supportive role. Given Gbagbo’s increasingly confrontational behaviour, the issue is now to determine which institution, the Council or the AU, is in a better position to avoid a further postponement of elections and renewed violence. This issue will become particularly important if Gbagbo decides that the current international forces should leave the country.

If the Council decides that the best option is to make new institutional arrangements to tilt the balance of power towards the prime minister, it will have to provide him with extra guarantees so that he will be able to exercise power, such as a certain degree of control over the army.

Council Dynamics
After the consensus of the last few months, the Council now appears increasingly fragmented. In September it was unable to impose targeted sanctions because of Russia and China’s opposition. Many in the Council also seem uncertain as to what the approach should be. The US favours following the AU. France, which has the lead, seems to prefer a more direct involvement of the Council. The Council also appears divided on the issue of the Ivorian president’s mandate, with the African members of the Council seeming to prefer a short renewal of Gbagbo’s mandate.

Underlying Problems
The IWG identified the main obstacles to the peace process as the following:

  • lack of political will;
  • disagreement over the voters’ lists;
  • the interruption of the disarmament process;
  • conflict over institutional prerogatives; and
  • the obstacles preventing the prime minister from exercising powers granted to him in resolution 1633.

UN Documents

Most Recent Security Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1708 (14 September 2006) extended the mandate of the Group of Experts until 15 December and requested a brief written update before 1 December.
  • 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.
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 Letter
  • S/2006/738 (13 September 2006) was the tenth 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
  • Authorised strength since 2 June 2006: 8,115 military personnel and 1,200 police officers
  • Strength as of 31 July 2006: 7,806 total uniformed personnel, and 728 police officers
  • Key troop-contributing countries: Bangladesh, Morocco, Ghana and Pakistan
1 July 2006 – 30 June 2007: $438.17 million

Useful Additional Sources
Côte d’Ivoire: Stepping Up the Pressure, Africa Briefing N°40, International Crisis Group, 7 September 2006

Côte d’Ivoire: Clashes between peacekeeping forces and civilian lessons for the future, Amnesty International, 19 September 2006

Sanctions for Conflict Prevention and Peace Building: Lessons Learned from Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia, by Peter Wallensteen, Mikael Eriksson and Daniel Strandow, Upppsala University, Department of Peace and Conflict Research, 2006

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