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UN WELCOMES AGREEMENT ON FINAL VOTERS’ LIST IN CÔTE D'IVOIRE

By UN

8 September - The agreement reached on the final list of voters for next month's long-delayed presidential polls signals a major breakthrough in Côte d'Ivoire's electoral process, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the West African nation said today.

On Monday, the Ivorian members of the Standing Consultative Framework – namely President Laurent Gbagbo, Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, and the heads of two political parties – reached an agreement on the list.

The UN mission, known as UNOCI, “trusts that it will lead to the establishment of a final voters' list and the holding of presidential elections as planned,” according to a press release issued today in Abidjan.

The presidential polls were supposed to have been held as far back as 2005, but were repeatedly postponed. Elections are now scheduled to take place on 31 October.

While preparations for the polls were on track up until late last year, they were interrupted in January. Political tensions began to mount after voter registration was suspended due to violence and Mr. Gbagbo dissolved the Government and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in February.

The electoral process restarted after a new Government and Electoral Commission were established, but further delays were caused by differences on how to tackle the issue of fraud and a dispute over the appeals process on the provisional voters list.

This week's agreement, which UNOCI called a “remarkable achievement,” will have a “historic” effect, since millions of people will receive identity cards for the first time in their lives.

The mission also urged all Ivorian political leaders to work to ensure a peaceful environment in the country before, during and after the polls.

UNOCI noted that it will continue to help the people of Côte d'Ivoire find a durable solution to the crisis through, among other measures, the conduct of open, fair, free and transparent elections.

The Security Council established the mission in 2004 to facilitate the peace process in the country, which became split by civil war in 2002 into a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south.