Côte d'Ivoire: UN envoy meets with African mediator in bid to solve electoral crisis

Listen to article

22 February - The top United Nations envoy in Côte d'Ivoire today met with the African mediator seeking to end the political crisis threatening the much-delayed elections in the divided West African country.

“The violence must end,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative for Côte d'Ivoire Y. J. Choi told reporters after meeting with President Blaise Compaoré of neighbouring Burkina Faso who flew into Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire's largest city, to help find a solution to the crisis sparked by the dissolution of the Government and the independent electoral authority earlier this month.

At least seven people have so far died during violent demonstrations against the dissolution. UN officials, including Mr. Ban, have repeatedly called on the parties to preserve the achievements made so far, including the provisional electoral list, and to quickly establish the definitive list for the elections, which it is hoped will bring stability to the country that was split by civil war in 2002 into a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south.

Originally scheduled as far back as 2005, the polls have been repeatedly delayed, most recently from last November to next month.

Again today Mr. Choi stressed the need to keep the progress already made in the electoral process. “We are all agreed that the provisional electoral list must be preserved,” he said, noting that it already contained 5.3 million voters, pending the resolution of disputes.

He voiced the hope that mediation by Mr. Compaoré, who has for several years acted as Facilitator in efforts to bridge the differences between the parties, will lead to the formation of a new government and electoral committee as soon as possible.

Mr. Compaoré met with all sides in the dispute today as well as with the diplomatic corps. Yesterday he met with leaders of the Ivorian opposition in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso's capital.

The UN Mission in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), which Mr. Choi also 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.