Expected Council Action
In January, the Council is expected to renew the mandates of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) and the French Licorne forces until 31 October 2007. Both mandates expire on 10 January.
Key Recent Developments
Relations between President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny remain tense. In late November, there were demonstrations against President Gbagbo when he reinstated government officials who had been suspended over a toxic waste scandal that caused many deaths in September. An investigating commission established by Prime Minister Banny found the officials responsible for neglect.
The International Working Group (IWG), meeting on 1 December in Abidjan, issued a communiqué condemning the president’s dismissal in November of the heads of the state-run newspaper Fraternité Matin and of Ivorian Radio Television (Radiodiffusion Télévision Ivoirienne, or RTI). The IWG said this decision undermined neutrality and impartiality of the public media and therefore violated the peace agreements. The IWG also called for sanctions against members of the Republican Guards who had denied UNOCI access to the prime minister’s office to ensure his security.
On 15 December the Council adopted a technical rollover of UNOCI until 10 January. France had previously circulated a draft resolution:
renewing the mandate of UNOCI and of the French forces until 31 October 2007 with a review process in June;
prolonging the temporary increase of UNOCI troop levels of up to 850 additional personnel and a ceiling of 725 civilian police personnel as authorised in resolution 1609;
reinforcing the mandate of UNOCI to ensure better protection of RTI’s neutrality and impartiality and to provide additional logistical assistance to the disarmament programme and organisation of elections; and
expressing willingness to transfer troops from the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to UNOCI.
However, the US could not adopt the proposed resolution due to delays with its internal procedures. The technical rollover was therefore necessary to avoid expiration of the UNOCI mandate on 15 December. As a result, the substantive resolution will be considered in mid-January.
On 15 December the Council, in resolution 1727, renewed until 31 October 2007 the sanctions regime established in resolutions 1572 and 1643. It also requested neighbouring states to report to the sanctions committee within ninety days on steps taken to implement the arms and diamonds embargoes. The last report of the Panel of Experts noted violations by Mali and Ghana.
On 19 December, apparently trying to sideline the UN-backed peace process, President Gbagbo announced his own plan to end the political crisis based on negotiating directly with the rebels, eliminating the north-south buffer area known as the “zone of confidence,” establishing a national “civic service” to provide young people with job skills, giving amnesty to the rebels, and allowing people displaced by the conflict to return home. However, the plan did not address critical issues for the electoral process such as the status and identification of voters.
On 21 December the Council endorsed the IWG’s communiqué in a presidential statement.
renew the mandate of UNOCI at current force levels until 31 October 2007 with the proposed expanded mandate;
follow the Secretary-General’s recommendations and renew the mandate of UNOCI until 31 December 2007;
approve the Secretary-General’s requests to increase UNOCI’s troop level by three battalions; and
authorise a transfer to UNOCI of a battalion due to leave Liberia at the end of 2006.
In January the political issues will largely remain the same as in December (please see our December Forecast).
During negotiations on the French draft, the US reportedly had reservations about some provisions on UNOCI’s role of guaranteeing security and neutrality of the RTI, redeployment of UNOCI and French forces from the “zone of confidence” to protect cantonment sites, and commitment to provide additional logistical support to the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programme. The US is also reluctant to increase the UNOCI troop level.
But the overall support for the renewal of UNOCI is strong and is not expected to change with the presence of new Council members. It is noteworthy, however, that South Africa has played a leading role on Côte d’Ivoire in the AU context and at times this has been controversial. It remains to be seen how this will play out in Council dynamics.
At press time, Council members are considering a list of names for targeted sanctions, proposed by France. It seems that China and Russia may be in favour, although sanctions are less likely to be adopted in January given the need for a new Chair of the Sanctions Committee and an inevitable settling-in period.
|Selected Security Council Resolution
|Latest Presidential Statement
|Latest Secretary-General’s Report on UNOCI
|Latest Report by the Sanctions Committee
|Special Representative of the Secretary-General
|Pierre Schori (Sweden)
|High Representative for the Elections
|Gérard Stoudmann (Switzerland)
|Size and Composition of UNOCI
|1 July 2006 – 30 June 2007 $438.17 million
For historical background please refer to our 1 December 2005 Update Report.