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Côte d'Ivoire / UNOCI chief receives civil society groups a day after legislative elections

By Mission of UN in Côte d'Ivoire
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ABIDJAN, Côte d'Ivoire, December 12, 2011/African Press Organization (APO)/ -- The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Côte d'Ivoire, Bert Koenders, on Monday, 12 December 2011, received a delegation of civil society groups that came to discuss the observations made by the different missions they deployed on the ground during the legislative elections on 11 December 2011.

“Generally, the elections were organized satisfactorily even if the level of participation was lower than expected,” the spokesman for the delegation Mr. Coulibaly Tiozon, deputy co-ordinator of the Réseau Ouest Africain pour l'Edification de la Paix en Côte d'Ivoire (Wanep), said at the end of the meeting at UNOCI headquarters. Deploring certain irregularities, Mr. Coulibaly said, however, that the elections were organised without major incident.

He added that the irregularitries were generally linked to the late opening of some polling stations due to the unavailability of electoral material. “We also noticed that some polling station agents behaved as if they were new to the work,” said Mr. Coulibaly adding that in some places, even though voting had ended at 5p.m., the results were still not available at midnight. In this regard, referring to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), Mr. Tiozon said that the results of the elections should be published as soon as they become available in order to avoid creating suspicion, which could provoke another crisis situation in Côte d'Ivoire as was the case last year after the presidential election.

Returning to the issue of the low voter turnout, Mr. Coulibaly said that he felt this was due to a real lack of sensitization. “We believe that an effective sensitization of voters would have removed a lot of difficulties,” he said.

With regard to the security arrangements for the elections, the deputy co-ordinator of WANEP expressed his appreciation for the work done by UNOCI forces and the Ivorian security forces, noting that their presence, though discreet, had prevented any violence and even reduced the level of abuse.

Mr. Coulibaly said that the Special Representative had listened attentively to their observations. “Our points of view mostly converge with his; Mr. Koenders said he had taken note of our observations and concerns. He expects more specific information from us to help him in his certification of the elections,” the spokesman of the delegation concluded.

Yesterday, after the closing of the polling stations, the Special Representative received members of the diplomatic corps and international observers to discuss preliminary observations of the day before addressing members of the press. Earlier the same day, he had visited several polling stations in the district of Abidjan.