COTE D'IVOIRE: UN endorses peace plan but troops will remain

Friday, March 30, 2007
Cote d’Ivoire’s efforts to take control of its peace process took a step forward on Wednesday as the United Nations Security Council endorsed a change of government, but diplomats told IRIN the presence of international troops monitoring a line of control between north and south would not be radically changed.

The decision by the United Nations, which has backed several previous peace plans for Côte d’Ivoire that have never been fully respected by either side in the conflict, is a major vote of confidence in Cote d’Ivoire’s capability in consolidating peace on its own.

Cote d’Ivoire, once among the richest and most stable country in West Africa, has been divided into a rebel held north and government controlled south since a brief civil war in 2002.

Last year the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1721 that effectively diminished President Laurent Gbagbo’s powers and boosted those of a UN-backed interim prime minister, Charles Konan Banny.

But according to the terms of the Ouagadougou Accord, negotiated between the government and Forces Nouvelles rebel movement earlier this month, former rebel leader Guillaume Soro has been appointed prime minister.

The Council endorsed the agreement facilitated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional organisation and Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, “and calls upon the Ivorian parties to implement it fully, in good faith and within the timetable set up in the agreement,” according to the Council’s presidential statement.

The Ouagadougou Accord supercedes the council’s demand that elections take place in Cote d’Ivoire by 31 October, according to the statement.

“We are very happy that we reached this Ouagadougou Accord and we now have the full support of the Security Council to implement this agreement and also the support of the Security Council for the nomination of Guillaume Soro as Prime Minister,” said Ivorian Ambassador to the UN Alcide Djedje.

France, a major player on the ground and within the UN Security Council, announced last week that of the 3,500 French troops currently in place in Zone of Confidence, the buffer zone dividing the government controlled south and rebel-held north, it would withdraw only around 500 troops.

UN peacekeepers from the UN Mission in Cote d’Ivoire (ONUCI) patrol alongside the French military, and French Press Counselor Axel Cruau told IRIN that France will work in tandem with the council and not make any moves independently in Cote d’Ivoire, including within the zone of confidence.

The Council’s statement asks the UN Secretariat for a list of recommendations by 15 May on the role that the United Nations should play to support the implementation of the peace process.

Cruau added that the zone will not be lifted until after the Secretariat submits its new report to the council. “The confidence zone has been established by resolution, so it has to be lifted by a resolution,” Cruau said.
Author: IRIN
Source: IRIN
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