May 2012 Monthly Forecast

Posted 30 April 2012
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THE SECURITY COUNCIL

Council Visiting Mission to West Africa

Expected Council Action
A Council mission will visit West Africa during the week of 21 May. The itinerary so far includes Liberia, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire. The visit to Liberia will follow-up on the findings of a special UN assessment mission on the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL), which submitted its report to Council members on 16 April. In Sierra Leone, Council members will likely want to assess the future of the UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Sierra Leone (UNIPSIL), and hold discussions with the government, opposition party leaders and civil society actors on the forthcoming presidential and parliamentary elections on 17 November. In Côte d’Ivoire, the Council members will follow-up on a report of an assessment mission of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), which was submitted to them on 29 March.

The visit to Liberia is likely to be co-led by the US and Morocco; to Sierra Leone by the UK and South Africa; and to Côte d’Ivoire by France and Togo. The Permanent Representatives of all these countries are expected to be participating in the mission.

A preliminary briefing  on the mission by the Permanent Representatives leading the different stages is likely in late May, and a report, and possibly a debate, could happen at a later stage.

Key Recent Developments

Liberia

Liberia held largely peaceful, free and fair presidential and legislative elections in October 2011, and a run-off presidential election on 16 January. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was re-elected to a second term. This was a significant milestone, but problems challenging the fragile country remain, as the assessment mission report details (please see the report on Liberia in this issue). Council members will most likely be meeting with Johnson-Sirleaf and cabinet members, opposition party leaders, resident ambassadors in Monrovia, UNMIL, and Liberian civil society and international NGO representatives. The Council last visited Liberia in May 2009.

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone became a contentious issue in the Council in March, after Michael von der Schulenburg, the Secretary-General’s Executive Representative for UNIPSIL, was abruptly withdrawn on 6 February, following a request by the Sierra Leone government. On 22 March, Schulenburg briefed the Council on a number of disquieting recent developments in the country, including allegations relating to the mobilisation of ex-combatants from the country’s recent civil war, and a multi-million dollar purchase of combat weapons for the paramilitary wing of the police, which is already implicated in violent attacks against opposition supporters. The forthcoming elections, he said, will be “the crucial test” for Sierra Leone’s fragile peace and nascent democracy.

Council members will likely hold discussions with President Ernest Bai Koroma and his government, the leaders of the opposition political parties, resident diplomats and civil society leaders. 

The Council last visited Sierra Leone in June 2004.

Côte d’Ivoire

A Secretary-General’s report submitted to the Council on 29 March noted that though the country has made significant progress in peace consolidation and in extending the writ of the state to all parts of the country, problems remain. A Panel of Experts report from 11 April noted violation of the sanctions regime on the country, including on arms and diamonds, and that ex-combatants from the country’s recent war remain largely un-pacified. A large number of the mercenaries, many Liberian, who fought in Côte d’Ivoire remain at large, and are possibly on the Liberian side of the border and can be easily mobilised. Meetings with President Alassane Ouattara, UNOCI, and other important stakeholders in Côte d’Ivoire, are expected.

The Council last visited Côte d’Ivoire in 2008.

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