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Top UN envoy intensifies talks in Côte d'Ivoire to ensure elections remain on course

By UN

18 February - The top United Nations envoy in Côte d'Ivoire is holding intensive talks with all sides in the divided West African country to ensure that last week's dissolution of the Government and the independent electoral authority does not affect repeatedly delayed elections, currently slated to be held next month.

The need to retain the progress already made, including a provisional voter list, to quickly publish a definitive list, and to maintain restraint and calm formed the basis of the discussions involving Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative Y. J. Choi, UN Mission in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) spokesperson Hamadoun Touré told a news briefing today in Abidjan, the country's main city.

“It is the need for this precondition that has led Mr. Choi to multiply his appeals for restraint and reason which are the best aids at crucial political times,” he said, referring to the call for calm in a country split into a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south by civil war in 2002. “In times of trouble reason must prevail.”

Elections were originally scheduled for as far back as 2005 but have been continually postponed, most recently from 29 November last year to this March and Mr. Choi's most recent talks follow a call two days ago from Mr. Ban for all sides to avoid any action that could cause renewed violence.

Mr. Touré said a request by Prime Minister Guillaume Soro for a UNOCI investigation of the Independent Electoral Commission had been rejected for various reasons.

UNOCI, which Mr. Choi leads, was set up in 2004 to help ensure a ceasefire and pave the way for permanent peace and democratic elections. Reauthorized repeatedly since then, most recently until 31 May, it currently comprises over 8,500 uniformed personnel, as well as 400 international civilian staff.