November 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 October 2006
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Côte d’Ivoire

Expected Council Action
At press time, a draft resolution sponsored by France and extending the transitional period in Côte d’Ivoire is being discussed by Council members. Because the current transitional period ends on 31 October, the resolution is expected to be adopted sooner rather than later. In November, the Council will carefully monitor the implementation of this resolution and may follow-up on any recommendations from the International Working Group (IWG). Targeted sanctions will be taken up again if it seems the situation might unravel further.

The Group of Experts of the Côte d’Ivoire Sanctions Committee is required by resolution 1708 to submit before 1 December a brief written update on the implementation of the arms and diamonds embargo, and on obstructions to the peace process.

The mandate of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) expires on 15 December.

Key Recent Developments
Tensions in Côte d’Ivoire have increased in the last several weeks between the presidential side and the rebel Forces Nouvelles. In early October Pascal Affi N’Guessan, the leader of the Presidential Party (Front Populaire Ivoirien, or FPI), warned of violence against nationals of neighbouring countries who are living in Côte d’Ivoire if the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) failed to force the rebels to disarm. Those threats were later repeated by Mamadou Koulibali, the speaker of the National Assembly. The Secretary-General issued a statement deploring the remarks.

In late September the South African mediator President Thabo Mbeki met with Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny. Meanwhile, the Ivorian opposition leaders asked for the termination of Mbeki’s mediation on the basis that he was too partial, and this triggered his resignation.

ECOWAS leaders met on 6 October and agreed on recommendations for a new postponement of the elections, which were supposed to have been held on 31 October. Those recommendations were not made public but they were submitted to the AU Peace and Security Council.

The AU Peace and Security Council meeting on 17 October decided that:

  • the Ivorian president’s mandate be extended by 12 months, during which time the provisions of Security Council resolution 1633 should be fully implemented;
  • the prime minister should have all necessary authority over the public services and the defence and security forces to implement the roadmap;
  • the prime minister should be allowed to rule by ordinances or decrees, in particular on issues concerning the identification programme;
  • the Chairman of the AU, Denis Sassou Nguesso, should be in charge of the mediation;
  • the government’s security forces should be unified and their republican and neutral character be reinforced;
  • the AU and ECOWAS should organise seminars on security sector reform, in which “the principles of civilian control of armed forces and personal and individual responsibility” for violations of human rights should be examined;
  • the role of the High Representative for the Elections should be strengthened; and
  • the UN Security Council should adopt sanctions against individuals who are blocking the peace process.

In his latest report on Côte d’Ivoire, published on 18 October, the Secretary-General made similar recommendations. In addition, he recommended that the Council:

  • increase the troop level of UNOCI by three battalions in order to meet the level of four battalions that he had recommended in January 2006;
  • provide the prime minister with the power to appoint senior public officials and the high command of the defence and security forces;
  • make it clear in a resolution that if the Ivorian leaders failed again to conduct elections before the end of the interim period, the Council along with the AU and ECOWAS, would put into place “transitional governance arrangements”;
  • adopt sanctions against defence and security forces commanders, as well as political leaders, if they disrupt the implementation of the roadmap and refer the “more serious” cases to the International Criminal Court; and
  • establish two task forces on the restructuring of the defence and security forces and on the identification process under the prime minister’s authority.

Another important component of the Secretary-General’s recommendations is that international instruments setting the institutional arrangements for the transitional period should take precedence over the Ivorian constitution when there is a divergence. More specifically, articles 35 (the requirements that all candidates for the presidency have to fulfil) and 48 (the implementation of extraordinary measures by the president in case of crisis) of the Ivorian constitution should not be invoked.

To maintain pressure on the different parties to implement the resolution, the Council has the following options:

  • increase UNOCI’s strength by three battalions;
  • transfer additional troops from the UN Mission in Liberia on an emergency basis (in January, when the UNMIL drawdown will begin, there may be more such transfers to UNOCI);
  • impose targeted sanctions on the spoilers of the peace process, especially if there is an upsurge of violence;
  • adopt a presidential statement endorsing the next IWG communiqué; and
  • begin discussions of the Secretary-General’s recommendations that the Council should signal readiness to refer most serious peace process spoilers to the International Criminal Court.

Key Issues
A key issue will be ensuring that the prime minister is able to exercise effectively his reinforced powers.  How much support from the international community and additional protection from UNOCI this may require is as yet unclear.

In the long run, another key issue will be to ensure that the parties do not lapse into even more entrenched positions as a result of yet another 12-month interim period.

An additional issue is the strength of UNOCI and whether it will have sufficient capacity to resist violence against it as occurred in early 2006.

Council Dynamics
France has the lead and remains concerned that pressure be maintained on the various actors in Côte d’Ivoire. 

It seems that a consensus has emerged on the way to approach the new interim period, with an increased role for the prime minister and the UN.

China and Russia remain concerned that imposing sanctions on important political leaders may have a negative impact on the peace process. This approach was related to achieving progress before the 31 October deadline. The failure to meet the deadline may lead them to modify their approach. China and Russia may also be reluctant to endorse the principle of prevalence of international instruments over the Ivorian constitution.

The US may resist proposals for an additional increase in UNOCI’s troop level. The US seems to consider that in the absence of progress in the peace process, there is no need for increasing troop contributions or for a transfer of troops from UNMIL before the UNMIL drawdown in January.

Underlying Problems
The risk of violence in November is high. Forces Nouvelles have rejected the AU’s recommendation to extend Gbagbo’s term and are demanding his replacement by a transition leader with two vice-presidents, one from each side. The supporters of the president, for their part, may react to the further limitation of Gbagbo’s power. Violent street demonstrations are possible.

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.
 Latest Secretary-General’s Report
 Latest report by the Sanctions Committee
 Selected Letter
  • PSC/AHG/Comm (LXIV) Rev. 1 (17 October 2006) was the AU Peace and Security Council decision on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire.

For historical background please refer to our 1 December 2005 Update.

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 30 September 2006: 8,986 total uniformed personnel, including 7,843 troops, 194 military observers; 949 police; supported by 369 international civilian personnel, 509 local staff and 228 UN Volunteers
  • Key troop-contributing countries: Bangladesh, Morocco, Ghana and Pakistan
 1 July 2006 – 30 June 2007 $438.17 million

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