March 2010 Monthly Forecast

Posted 1 March 2010
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AFRICA

Côte d’Ivoire

Expected Council Action
In March the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations will brief the Council on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire. While no Council decision is envisaged, many Council members are concerned about recent developments and will be watching the security situation closely. They are likely to be guided by the recommendations from the field. The mandate of UNOCI expires 31 May.

Key Recent Developments
On 21 January the head of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Choi Young-jin, briefed the Council on the latest report of the Secretary-General and on progress towards achieving key benchmarks of the Ouagadougou Agreement and its additional protocols. Choi told the Council that the publication in November of the provisional Ivorian voters list was a significant gain. But he also cited a number of issues that remained to be resolved before polls could be held.

On 28 January the Council, worried about the situation, extended the mandate of UNOCI only until 31 May 2010. (The Council extension was for four months contrary to the recommendation by the Secretary-General to extend it by six months.)

The Council expressed its intention to raise UNOCI’s current troop level of 7,450 by up to 500 additional personnel for a limited period of time when the final voters list is made public. (On 19 December, President Laurent Gbagbo and the Facilitator of the Ouagadougou Agreement, President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, sent a letter to the Secretary-General jointly proposing the deployment, for a period of three months, of a military unit of up to 500 troops from Burkina Faso to Côte d’Ivoire as part of UNOCI in order to reinforce security arrangements for the Ivorian presidential elections that were expected to be held by March 2010.)

The Council expressed its intention to review the mandate and troop level of UNOCI by 31 May “with the view to possible significant modifications … in light of the elections and the implementation of the key steps of the peace process.” The Council also requested that the Secretary-General provide an update by mid-March 2010 and a full report by the end of April, including detailed recommendations and options for the future of UNOCI.

On 12 February Gbagbo dissolved both the government and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), accusing the head of the Commission, Robert Mambé, of adding names to the electoral register to boost the opposition vote. The opposition described Gbagbo’s action as illegal and part of a strategy to cling to power by further delaying elections, which have now been postponed six times since they were first scheduled to take place in 2005. The opposition demanded the reinstatement of the Commission.

Demonstrations stemming from public anger over Gbagbo’s decision subsequently erupted daily across Côte d’Ivoire. On 19 February, security forces in the southwestern town of Gagnoa opened fire on opposition demonstrators, killing five.

During the week of 12 February international pressure mounted on Gbagbo. The UN, the Economic Community of West African States, France and the US urged the country to resolve the impasse and resume efforts to hold the polls as quickly as possible.

On 20 February Gbagbo announced that he had temporarily reinstated Defense Minister Michel N’Guessan Amani, Interior Minister Désiré Tagro and Finance Minister Charles Diby Koffi to run the government while the prime minister formed a new government.

On 23 February Prime Minister Guillaume Soro (and leader of the former rebel Forces nouvelles) announced a new government of 27 members, including opposition members. (The announcement had been held up as Soro and Compaoré sought to resolve the stand-off between the opposition and the president, following the 12 February announcement about resolving the government and the IEC.) Soro named 16 members of the new cabinet who were drawn from Forces nouvelles and President Gbagbo’s party. At press time the names of ministers for the remaining 11 posts designated for the opposition parties had not been announced, but the opposition has agreed to participate in the new government. Agreement on the IEC was reached on 26 February.

Key Issues
A key issue for the Council is to determine how best to encourage the current peace process. A related question is whether it needs to signal the Council’s concern and its resolve for elections to be held without further delay.

Underlying Problems
The ongoing inability of Côte d’Ivoire to return to legitimate governance through presidential elections threatens to undermine the peace consolidation process. The related problems of delayed restoration of state authority across the country and the stalled disarmament process further increase the risks of a relapse into violent conflict in the country.

Options
Options for the Council include:

  • continuing to leave the leadership to bilateral initiatives;
  • reiterating the unacceptability of repeated delays in registering voters and pushing the Ivorian parties to make more progress in order to conduct elections in spring;
  • setting some timelines for ongoing Council monitoring;
  • a visit to Côte d’Ivoire by a small Council mission; and
  • increasing deterrents against individuals obstructing the peace process by imposing additional targeted sanctions.

Council Dynamics
Many Council members seem now to have become quite distrustful about the commitment of leading Ivorian political actors—both Gbagbo and, to a certain extent, the former rebels—in efforts to hold national elections.

The Council’s decision to extend the mandate of UNOCI for four months (instead of the six months recommended by the Secretary-General) and the expression of its intention to review UNOCI’s mandate and troop level by 31 May “with the view to possible significant modifications…in light of the elections and the implementation of the key steps of the peace process,” was seen as a discreet hint about the need for keeping the electoral process on track. It was meant as a signal to key actors in Côte d’Ivoire that the very expensive international peacekeeping presence in the country could not be taken for granted, especially in light of the lack of commitment by key actors to the peace consolidation process.

While the Council had on 8 December 2009 indicated in a statement that it would “react as appropriate…towards those who would block the progress of the electoral process,” and re-echoed this position in its 28 January resolution, some Council members still seem wary about the effectiveness of targeting additional important political figures. However, others are conscious that the fruits of a still productive economy are being engaged by a number of leaders on both sides and, as a result, the status quo has certain attractions.

France, the lead country on this issue in the Council, seems very concerned to get the peace process back on track but, unlike in the past, is not pushing any immediate initiatives for Council leadership in helping to achieve this outcome, except to anticipate the Council’s deliberations on the issue during the mid-March briefing which is in turn expected to feed into the upcoming Secretary-General’s report on the future role of UNOCI due in late April.

UN Documents

Selected Council Resolutions

  • S/RES/1911 (28 January 2010) extended the mandate of UNOCI until 31 May 2010.
  • S/RES/1893 (28 October 2009) renewed the Côte d’Ivoire sanctions regime until 31 October 2010.

Selected Presidential Statements

  • S/PRST/2009/33 (8 December 2009) noted with concern the postponement of the first round of the presidential election, scheduled for 29 November 2009.
  • S/PRST/2009/25 (29 September 2009) expressed concern about the delay in the publication of the Ivorian electoral list and expressing the Council’s intention to review the situation by 15 October 2009.
  • S/PRST/2008/42 (7 November 2008) expressed the Council’s determination to fully support the electoral process on the understanding that elections would 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/2009/446 (4 September 2009) was on the preparation of the provisional electoral list for the Ivorian presidential election.
  • S/2009/5 (5 January 2009) and S/2008/793 (16 December 2008) were from the Secretary-General, appointing experts to the Côte d’Ivoire Sanction Committee’s Group of Experts.
  • S/2008/834 (30 December 2008) contained the fourth supplementary agreement to the Ouagadougou Agreement.

Other

  • S/PV.6263 (21 January 2010) was the verbatim record of the latest meeting of the Council on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire.
  • S/2009/626 (7 December 2009) contained the press statement of the sixth meeting of the Permanent Consultative Framework (Cadre permanent de concertation, or CPC) of the Ouagadougou Agreement.
  • S/2007/144 (13 March 2007) contained the Ouagadougou Agreement.

Other Relevant Facts

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of Mission

Choi Young-jin (Republic of Korea)

Force Commander

Major-General Fernand Marcel Amoussou (Benin)

Police Commissioner

Major-General Gerardo Cristian Chaumont (Argentina)

Chair of the Sanctions Committee

Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti (Brazil)

Size and Composition of UNOCI

  • Strength as of 31 December 2009: 8,536 total uniformed personnel, including 7,202 troops, 189 military observers, 1,145 police; supported by 400 international civilian personnel, 682 local staff and 304 UN Volunteers

Approved Budget

1 July 2009-30 June 2010: $491.77 million

Full forecast