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Côte d'Ivoire / UNOCI chief meets political parties and groups taking part in legislative elections

By Mission of UN in Côte d'Ivoire
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ABIDJAN, Côte d'Ivoire, December 2, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- UNOCI chief meets political parties and groups taking part in legislative elections

“UNOCI does not have any preferences, we are here to support you with total impartiality,” the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Côte d'Ivoire, Bert Koenders, declared on Thursday.

Speaking at a meeting with political parties and groups taking part in the legislative elections on 11 December 2011, Mr. Koenders started by reassuring all the participants that he was in favour of inclusive dialogue in the country, adding that they were the political future of the country. He also raised the issue of security, financing the elections and respect for the code of conduct.

The Special Representative also explained his role as certifier of the legislative elections, which he said was to ensure that each stage of the electoral process fulfilled the conditions required to hold these elections. “It is a Security Council mandate but it is also a mandate which was entrusted to us by the Ivorian political parties themselves,” he explained.

“I know that I am talking to you at a crucial time for Côte d'Ivoire; our discussions are taking place after a difficult post-electoral period, after the violences and political tensions, in a context of change,” said the Special Representative, recalling that the discussions were taking place in a tense atmosphere with regard to national and international justice for all those suspected of having committed crimes during the post-electoral crisis. He, however, appealed to the political parties to use constructive dialogue to advance political and economic issues.

“In two days, the electoral campaign will start and UNOCI will commit 7,000 military and police elements to support the 25,000 Ivorian gendarmes and police deployed to provide security for the elections,” announced Mr. Koenders.

With regard to the financing of the elections, the Special Representative said that each political group should be given the material means to which it is entitled so that it can fully participate in the elections. “I also drew the Government's attention on the need to guarantee that each candidate receives fair coverage from and equal access to the public media. In this regard, he recalled that the code of conduct signed by all political parties in 2008 was still valid.

“I would like to urge you to go beyond this code and commit yourselves with conviction to the path to national reconciliation,” said Mr. Koenders. “UNOCI will always be at your side in all impartiality and neutrality and in accepting the political divergence in the country,” he stressed.

The Special Representative's presentation was following by discussions. Some participants highlighted their concerns with regard to the security situation, transporting the tally sheets and financing political parties.

A meeting between the head of UNOCI and independent candidates taking part in the elections is due to be held on Friday, 2 December 2011.