5676th Meeting (AM)
The Ouagadougou Agreement, having given rise to direct dialogue between the parties to the conflict in Côte d'Ivoire, was a real turning point in that country's peace process, Djibrill Y. Bassole, Minister for National Security of Burkina Faso, said in a briefing to the Security Council this morning.
Representing President Blaise Compaoré in his capacity as Facilitator of the Ouagadougou Agreement, Mr. Bassole said the former belligerents had engaged in open dialogue and made efforts to find practical solutions to such questions as identification of the population; the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of combatants; the dismantling of armed militias; the removal of the zone of confidence; and the restoration of the State's authority and the deployment of its administration throughout the national territory.
The Agreement emphasized the prime concerns of the parties, which had previously been stumbling blocks to the peace process, he said. It constituted a balanced compromise that was acceptable to both sides and drew all the useful lessons from the previously agreed Linas-Marcoussis, Accra and Pretoria accords. Its originality lay in the fact that it had been the outcome of the free and shared desire of the two main military forces in the country, for which reason it had been welcomed by the entire Ivorian political class and the Ivorian people as a whole.
"The logic of confrontation that previously prevailed has given way to the logic of useful partnership," he said, cautioning, however, that while the peace process was well under way, it could prove vulnerable. Certainly, there had been delays in implementing certain essential legal actions and in carrying out important steps like mobile court hearings, voter registration, the dismantling of militias and the redeployment of the administration throughout the national territory. However, that situation could be explained more by the complexity of those operations and the high stakes involved than by bad faith on the part of the parties.
The Ouagadougou Agreement was signed in the Burkinabe capital on 4 March and President Compaoré was named Facilitator in his capacity as Chairman of the Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). On 26 March, President Laurent Gbagbo and Guillaume Soro, leader of the Forces nouvelles, signed a supplementary agreement designating the latter as the new Prime Minister and according him specific powers for the purpose of implementing the Ouagadougou Agreement.
Mr. Bassole said that, since the beginning of the direct dialogue between the parties, the Facilitator had shown his commitment through his consultations with representatives of the United Nations Secretary-General and the High Representative for elections. He had received the technical assessment mission headed by Hédi Annabi, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, and had held fruitful exchanges with its members.
He said the Facilitator had agreed to appoint a special representative to Abidjan and to the creation of two consultative bodies: a national body that would facilitate the gathering of Ivorian opinions; and an international one that would enable all international partners involved in finding a way out of the crisis to follow up on the peace process.
Convinced that the parties would be unable to carry out the peace process without the help of the international community, particularly the United Nations, the Facilitator reiterated his appeal for consistent international technical and financial support, Mr. Bassole said. The Facilitator also conveyed his appreciation to the Security Council for its endorsement of the Ouagadougou Agreement, conveyed by its presidential statement of 28 March. (See Press Release SC/8986.)
The meeting began at 10:15 a.m. and ended at 10:30 a.m.
The Security Council met this morning to consider the situation in Côte d'Ivoire and to hear a briefing by the representative of President Blaise Compaoré of Burkina Faso, Facilitator of the Ouagadougou Agreement.
Before the Council was the thirteenth progress report of the Secretary-General on the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) (document S/2007/275), dated 14 May and based on the findings of a multidisciplinary technical assessment mission that visited the country from 10 to 22 April. It provides recommendations requested by the Security Council regarding the role that the United Nations should play in helping to resolve the crisis in that country.
In the report, the Secretary-General recalls the presidential statement (document S/PRST/2007/8) of 28 March, in which the Council welcomed the 4 March signing of the Ouagadougou Agreement (document S/3007/144) by President Laurent Gbagbo and Guillaume Soro under the facilitation of President Compaoré. On 26 March, President Gbagbo and Mr. Soro signed a supplementary agreement designating the latter as the new Prime Minister of Côte d'Ivoire, stipulating that he will remain in office until the holding of the presidential election and barring him from standing as a candidate. The new Prime Minister would be accorded specific powers for the purpose of implementing the Ouagadougou Agreement.
According to the report, the Ouagadougou Agreement seeks to resolve the crisis in Côte d'Ivoire by merging the Force nouvelles and the national defence and security forces through the establishment of an integrated command centre; replacing the zone of confidence with a green line marked by UNOCI observation posts that would be dismantled gradually; deploying mixed Forces nouvelles and national police units to maintain law and order in the area formerly covered by the zone of confidence; and re-establishing State administration throughout the country.
Other tasks cited in the report include dismantling the militias; disarming combatants and enrolling them in a civic service programme; granting amnesty for all national security-related crimes committed between September 2000 and the date of signing of the agreement; simplifying and accelerating the identification of the population and the registration of voters; and organizing a free, fair, open and transparent presidential election, in accordance with the Linas-Marcoussis and Pretoria agreements. The Ouagadougou Agreement also provides for the creation of new institutional arrangements to implement these tasks, including a new transitional Government.
In order to facilitate the monitoring of the peace process, the Agreement created two new follow-up mechanisms, the report states. The first -- a standing consultative mechanism comprising President Gbagbo, Prime Minister Soro, former President Henri Konan Bedié, former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara and the Facilitator, President Compaoré -- will address all arising issues pertaining to the Agreement. The second mechanism is an evaluation and monitoring committee, to be chaired by a representative of the Facilitator and comprising three representatives each from the two signatory parties. The Facilitator will, through arbitration, settle any disagreements relating to the interpretation or implementation of the Agreement.
The report notes that the implementation of the Ouagadougou Agreement started on schedule with the signing of a presidential decree establishing the integrated command centre on 16 March. President Gbagbo and Prime Minister Soro subsequently inaugurated its headquarters in Yamoussoukro on 16 April. On 7 April, the Prime Minister announced a 33-member Cabinet comprising 11 members from the ruling Front populaire ivorien (FPI), 7 from the Forces nouvelles and 5 each from the Rassemblement des Républicains (RDR), the Parti democratique de Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI), smaller political parties and civil society. Four Cabinet members are women, compared to six in the previous Government.
On 12 April, the President issued an ordinance granting amnesty for national security-related crimes, the report says. The removal of the zone of confidence started as scheduled on 16 April with the dismantling of UNOCI checkpoints, the installation of the first UNOCI observation post and the deployment of the first mixed police unit. Two more were deployed on 30 April. However, the parties were unable to meet the 23 April deadline for dismantling the militias, the cantonment of combatants, the redeployment of State officials throughout the country and the launching of mobile court hearings for the identification of the population, all of which required more detailed technical planning than envisaged by the tight timelines set in the Agreement.
According to the report, the Ouagadougou Agreement assigned most of the military tasks related to the peace process to the integrated command centre. However, it remained silent on some major police and civilian tasks performed by the United Nations, including the Organization's role in the electoral process and in the certification and arbitration role of the High Representative for the elections. Nevertheless, it mentioned a specific United Nations role in the following areas: overall supervision of the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process; supervising the cantonment of former fighters and the storage of their weapons; and maintaining observation posts. The Agreement was also silent on the promotion and monitoring of human rights, which is crucial to normalizing the situation in Côte d'Ivoire.
Inviting the Security Council to approve the mission's recommendations, the Secretary-General notes that prior to the Ouagadougou dialogue, the Ivorian parties had signed a total of five peace agreements since the outbreak of the conflict in 2002, each of which had contributed significantly towards resolving some important aspects of the crisis. Within the framework of those accords, the impartial forces had helped prevent the parties from returning to full-scale hostilities.
The advent of the Ouagadougou Agreement, however, took the Ivorian peace process to a unique turning point, he said. For the first time, the Ivorian people have undertaken a dialogue on their own initiative, with a Facilitator of their choice. The opposition parties, which were not directly involved in the dialogue, have confirmed that they fully support the Agreement and have mandated Prime Minister Soro to represent them.
Ownership of the peace process imposes a unique responsibility on the Ivorian parties to implement the Ouagadougou Agreement in full and in good faith, stated the report. However, as in all peace processes, unforeseen events will test their will at every critical turn. The political will of the parties alone will not sustain the peace process. Already, the delays in dismantling the militias, launching the cantonment of former combatants, redeploying State authority and the mobile court hearings, which were all scheduled to begin on 23 April, have underscored the challenges that the capacity limitations of national institutions can present for the implementation of the Agreement. Its ultimate test lies in its ability to resolve the fundamental issues at the heart of the Ivorian crisis.
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