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Security Council extends mandate of UN force in Côte d’Ivoire through end of May

By UN

28 January - The Security Council today extended the mandate of the United Nations mission in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), and the French forces supporting it, for another four months to help support the staging of free, fair and transparent elections in the West African nation.

Originally intended to be held as far back as 2005, the polls have been repeatedly postponed. Last scheduled for November 2009, they are now slated for March.

The Council, in a unanimously adopted resolution, urged the relevant Ivorian actors “to ensure the publication of the final voters list, to announce the official date of the first round of the presidential election and to meet their commitments in full.” UNOCI's mandate was also extended through 31 May.

To reinforce security ahead of the elections, the 15-member body 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 will be made public.

Last week the Secretary-General's Special Representative in Côte d'Ivoire, Choi Young-Jin, told the Council that the publication in November of the provisional electoral list was among the significant gains made in recent months towards holding the elections.

At the same time, he cited a number of issues that remained to be resolved before the polls can be held this spring. Among them is the reunification of the country – which was split into a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south by civil war in 2002.

As agreed by the parties in 2008, a de facto reunification is to be completed two months prior to the presidential election, but progress on this has been slow, Mr. Choi reported.

The Council today urged the Ivorian parties to make further concrete progress, before and after the elections, to advance the process towards reunification, as well as the disarmament of former combatants of rebel Forces Nouvelles.