January 2009 Monthly Forecast

Posted 24 December 2008
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AFRICA

Côte d’Ivoire

Expected Council Action
The Secretary-General’s report on the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI) is due by 9 January. (UNOCI’s mandate expires on 31 January.) The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Côte d’Ivoire, Choi Young-jin, is likely to brief the Council on recent developments.

The Council is expected to renew the UNOCI mandate for an additional six months. Discussions are likely to focus on the impact of the postponement of presidential elections originally scheduled for 30 November but postponed for the fifth time. It is unclear whether this development will lead to any change to UNOCI’s mandate. The Council is expecting to receive a new electoral calendar from the Ivorian parties based on progress in identifying and registering voters.

Key Recent Developments
The November presidential elections were called off because of logistical, technical and financial delays in the national identification and voters’ registration process. This was officially announced on 10 November by the permanent consultation mechanism (Cadre Permanent de Consultation, CPC) established in 2007 following the Ouagadougou peace agreement, comprising Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, and the leaders of main opposition parties, Alassane Ouattara and Henri Bédié. The process is facilitated by Burkina Faso’s president, Blaise Compaoré. The CPC agreed that the Ivorian Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) should establish a new election timetable by 31 December, based on progress in the identification and registration processes.

The Council adopted a presidential statement on 7 November expressing deep concern about delaying the elections, fearing risks for the entire Ivorian peace process. The Council urged the president of the IEC, Robert Beugré Mambé, to make public the new electoral timeline. It also called on Ivorian parties to take concrete steps to complete identification and registration of voters before the end of January 2009 and expressed its hope that the elections will be organised before the end of spring 2009.

On 29 October the Council adopted resolution 1842 renewing for one year the arms and diamonds embargo, as well as the targeted measures (assets freeze and travel ban) imposed in resolutions 1572 and 1643. The mandate of the Group of Experts was also extended for one year. The Council decided to review those measures no later than three months after elections are held and to conduct a midterm review no later than 30 April. A new measure was the Council’s decision that any threat to the electoral process shall constitute a threat to the peace and national reconciliation process and therefore could be subject to sanctions.

The 13 October Secretary-General’s report on UNOCI noted that the political and security situation in Côte d’Ivoire remained stable despite worrying security incidents in Abidjan in early October. These tensions were linked to the voter registration process (with attacks taking place at the registration booths), frustrations concerning the reintegration of all armed forces into a new army (with demonstrations over low pay), and tensions between communities over land, and the rising cost of living.

The report also noted that rapes had further increased between April and July, particularly in the western part of the country in the context of armed attacks by highway robbers, and low levels of prosecution have heightened the pervading sense of impunity. The Secretary-General also referred to a comprehensive assessment conducted by UNOCI on elections-related risks. He emphasised that UNOCI could resort to the inter-mission reinforcement arrangements during and after elections, which was provided under resolution 1609.

Despite some positive developments, including the launching of the identification process in September, the Secretary-General expressed concern over several challenges to implementing the Ouagadougou agreement, including:

  • no progress on the collection of weapons belonging to former combatants (although 11,364 Forces nouvelles combatants have already been cantoned, only about ten weapons and some ammunition were collected);
  • a lack of genuine progress in the redeployment of state authority in the north;
  • slow progress in the unification of the defence and security forces (to date, the integrated force has only 500 men while it was envisioned that up to 25,000 government militias and 5,000 rebels would be included); and
  • greater than expected delays in the identification and voter registration processes.

On 27 November, a report released by Côte d’Ivoire’s National Statistics Institute revealed that poverty was getting worse, reaching its highest level in twenty years. Almost half of the Ivorian population was living on less than $1.25 per day while in 2000 this figure was 38.4 percent. In the north, the level of poverty reached 77 percent.

Options
Options for the Council will be greatly influenced by whether the electoral commission presents a new electoral plan by the time of Council discussions. In particular, this will influence the Council’s willingness to increase pressure on the parties. Options include:

  • if the briefings are essentially optimistic, prolonging UNOCI’s mandate without any change until 31 July 2009;
  • alternatively, reinforcing UNOCI’s mandate relating to the election process and elevating its role in providing enhanced security for the identification and electoral processes; and
  • including firm and unambiguous language about the unacceptability of repeated delays in the identification and registration processes and requiring the Ivorian parties to make more progress in view of conducting polls in the spring of 2009.

One possibility to signal its serious concern about the delays in the electoral process would be for the Council, in line with resolution 1842 of October 2008, to request the Sanctions Committee to prepare a list of individuals obstructing the electoral process to be targeted with individual sanctions.

Key Issues
The latest postponement of presidential elections raises the issue of UNOCI’s mandate and whether it needs to be adjusted to better respond to the apparent stagnations in the electoral process and to send a political signal to the parties that the international community expects no further delays.

A related issue is whether the CPC will meet its deadline of 31 December to announce a new date for the elections—and whether the new timeline will be realistic. It seems that this will greatly depend on the electoral commission’s assessment of whether a “critical mass” of the electorate (from one-half to two-thirds, approximately) has been identified. It is estimated that 11 million people (Ivorians of 16 years of age or more) need to be identified, and 9 million of them (people over the age of 18) need to register to vote. So far only 2 million people have been identified.

Another issue is progress with disarmament of all former combatants and whether this needs to be completed before the elections can take place. For the rebel forces, giving up weapons before the elections represents a security risk, while for the presidential camp it is seen as necessary. In November, Pascal Affi N’Guessan, the leader of the presidential party, said elections would be pointless without disarmament. This initiated a debate between the two sides, with the rebels insisting that full disarmament is not a prerequisite according to the Ouagadougou agreement.

The lack of progress in disarmament coupled with frustrations over the elections delay, recent military unrest and increasing poverty, have raised concerns about elevated security risks in Côte d’Ivoire. The Council is therefore likely to focus also on the security situation in the country.

Council Dynamics
There are deep concerns within the Council about the future of the peace process—and on the security situation in general—as a result of postponing elections. Many believe that it is now important for the Council to send a serious political signal to actors in Côte d’Ivoire that the international community is ready to continue to support the current peace process, but there must be tangible progress.

The Council has already threatened to impose sanctions on anyone hampering the electoral process and expressed support as long as elections are held in spring 2009. Accordingly, Council members are waiting for the Secretary-General’s advice on UNOCI’s mandate and the new elections date.

Some, including France, want to see more progress in implementing the peace agreement but consider that the process needs to remain nationally owned.

Council members from the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) (Burkina Faso, South Africa, Indonesia and Vietnam) have emphasised the importance of the electoral process being entirely in the hands of the Ivorians. The departure of several NAM members in January (including South Africa, which was active in the Council on Côte d’Ivoire) may affect dynamics.

Finally, there appear to be divisions between those considering that disarmament, security, the rule of law and the redeployment of state administration are necessary for holding elections (mainly Western members), and those that believe that the completion of these activities should not be a condition for holding elections.

Underlying Problems
Some of the delays in identifying and registering voters have been due mainly to strikes by census officials over slow payment and lack of resources. Despite a trust fund established by the UN Development Programme, it seems that the allocation of financial resources has been problematic. Coordination among local identification centres, especially outside the biggest city, Abidjan, has also been a problem.

Difficulties in the identification process have also arisen because many immigrants from neighbouring Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger do not have birth certificates. In addition, many of them became internally displaced after the 2002 civil war (approximately 440,000 Internally Displaced Persons are currently in Abidjan), and this makes identification even more complex.

Another problem seems to be increasing divisions within the rebel forces. The Forces nouvelles was allegedly attacked in western Côte d’Ivoire in November by a breakaway faction. The attack left nine people dead. This follows similar violence in June and July when men loyal to Kone Zakaria, a sacked commander of the Forces nouvelles, temporary seized the town of Seguela.

UN Documents

Latest Security Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1842 (29 October 2008) extended the sanctions regime until 31 October 2009 and decided that any obstruction to the electoral process would be subject to sanctions.
  • S/RES/1826 (29 July 2008) extended the mandate of UNOCI until 31 January 2009.
  • S/RES 1643 (15 December 2005) renewed until 15 December 2006 the sanctions regime and established a diamonds embargo.
  • S/RES/1609 (24 June 2005) increased UNOCI’s contingents and authorised the temporary redeployment of military and civilian police personnel among the UN Mission in Liberia, the UN Mission in Sierra Leone and UNOCI.
  • S/RES/1572 (15 November 2004) established an arms embargo and called for sanctions against individuals found to be obstructing the peace process, violating human rights, publicly inciting hatred and violence and violating the embargo.

Selected Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2008/42 (7 November 2008) expressed deep concern about the postponement of presidential elections, urged the Ivorian parties to complete the identification and registration of voters operations before the end of January 2009 and expressed its determination to fully support the electoral process on the understanding that elections will be organised before the end of spring 2009.
  • S/PRST/2008/11 (29 April 2008) welcomed the approval by the Ivorian authorities of the Independent Electoral Commission’s proposal to postpone the presidential elections to 30 November 2008.
  • S/PRST/2007/8 (28 March 2007) endorsed the Ouagadougou agreement.

Latest Secretary-General’s Report

Selected Letters

  • S/2008/793 (16 December 2008) was a letter from the Secretary-General informing of the appointments of experts.
  • S/2008/694 (11 November 2008) was a letter from Burkina Faso transmitting the press statement of the fourth meeting of the CPC held on 10 November in Ouagadougou.

Other

  • S/PV.6001 (27 October 2008) was a briefing by Choi Young-jin on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire.
  • S/2007/144 (13 March 2007) contained the Ouagadougou agreement.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General

Choi Young-jin (Republic of Korea)

Force Commander

Major-General Fernand Marcel Amoussou (Benin)

Police Commissioner

Major-General Gerardo Cristian Chaumont (Argentina)

Group of Experts

Grégoire Bafouatika, Republic of Congo (aviation)
James Bevan, UK (arms)
Noora Jamsheer, Bahrain (diamonds)
El Hadi Salah, Algeria (customs and coordinator of the Group of Experts)
Finance expert to be appointed

Size and Composition of UNOCI

  • Strength as of 31 October 2008: 9,156 total uniformed personnel, including 7,823 troops, 189 military observers; 1,144 police; supported by 439 international civilian personnel, 666 local staff and 286 UN Volunteers
  • Key troop-contributing countries: Bangladesh, Ghana, Jordan, Morocco and Pakistan.

Approved Budget

1 July 2008 – 30 June 2009: $497.46 million

Full forecast

Useful Additional Sources