Welcoming the willingness of former rival parties to fully implement the peace deal in Côte d'Ivoire, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in the West African country participated in a ceremony marking the official integration of former rebels into two brigades.
By attending the ceremony yesterday, the mission, known as UNOCI, hoped to shows its eagerness to support the Ouagadougou Peace Accord between President Laurent Gbagbo and Forces Nouvelles Secretary-General Guillaume Soro which commits both sides to abide by free, fair and transparent elections.
The deal also calls for the dismantling of the Zone of Confidence, which separates the Government-controlled south from the rebel-held north.
The Minister of Defence, Michel Amani N'Guessan, who led the ceremony, thanked UNOCI for its assistance in maintaining the peace, calling on the mission to continue to work with Ivorians to consolidate stability.
At the event held in Bangolo, in western Côte d'Ivoire, Mr. Amana also said that mixed brigades are essential and "should not constitute a platform for revenge between former enemy brothers."
Problems "will be progressively resolved, and so will the security situation," he noted at the ceremony, which was attended by both General Philippe Mangou of the national army, the Defence and Security Forces (FDS) of Côte d'Ivoire, and General Soumaila Bakayoko, of Forces Nouvelles, in a show of solidarity.
Participants also visited the locations where the mixed brigades, comprising four UN police officers and 10 people each from FDS and Forces Nouvelles.
Mr. Amana also called on both sides to wipe the slate clean of any past grievances and to show tolerance and forgiveness to make the Accord, reached on 4 March, a success. "This agreement came from Ivorians and its failure would not be understood," he said.
UNOCI's Deputy Force Commander General Elhadji Mouahamadou Kandji and the UN Police Commissioner General Cristian Gerardo Chaumont represented the world body in the ceremony, where the UN flag was replaced by the Ivorian one.
The dismantling of the Zone of Confidence kicked off with a ceremony on 16 April, during which a mixed brigade in N'Gattadolikro, in the centre of the country, was installed in the presence of President Gbagbo.
UNOCI has nearly 9,000 total uniformed personnel in the country, including 7,850 troops and almost 1,000 police with a mandate to monitor the cessation of hostilities and movements of armed groups, help in disarmament and dismantling of militias and contribute to the security of the operation of identifying the population and registering voters.