Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire: UNOCI witnesses installation of mixed brigades in the West

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The United Nations Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) has welcomed the willingness shown by the former Ivorian belligerents to fully implement the Ouagadougou Agreement. It was in this regard that UNOCI's Deputy Force Commander, General Elhadji Mouahamadou Kandji, and the UN Police Commissioner, General Cristian Gérardo Chaumont, took part on Monday in Bangolo, in the official installation ceremony of two Gendarmerie mixed brigades in Bangolo and Zealé in the West of the country.

By its presence at this ceremony, UNOCI wanted to show that it was still eager, together with the Force Licorne represented by its Chief of Staff General Antoine Lecerf, to continue its support for the progressive dismantling of the Zone of Confidence.

After the pouring of libation by traditional leaders, who blessed the event and speeches of members of the local authorities welcoming the guests, the President of the ceremony, the Minister of Defence, Michel Amani N' Guessan thanked UNOCI for the role which it had always played in the West, which, he said, had succeeded in maintaining peace. "We still need UNOCI and Licorne". That's why, he called on UNOCI to remain beside Ivorians as they work towards reaching this objective.

He moreover explained that the installation of the mixed brigades was an essential element of a military operation and testified to the fact that Ivorians were now fully involved in the dynamics of reunification. "This installation is simply the revival of State Rights and should not constitute a platform for revenge between former enemy brothers". Problems he added, "will be progressively resolved, and so will the security situation".

He therefore called on everyone to accept the hand of the former adversary and to wipe the slate clean of any past rancor, to show tolerance and forgiveness in order to make the Ouagadougou Agreement a success. According to Minister Amani, "this Agreement came from Ivorians and its failure would not be understood".

Participants, who included the Military Governor of the Moyen Cavally region, then replaced the UN flag with that of Cote d'Ivoire and visited the places where the mixed brigades, comprising ten policemen and gendarmes from the Defence and Security Forces (FDS) of Cote d'Ivoire and ten from the Armed Forces of the Forces Nouvelles (FAFN) would be located. Also included in the mixed brigades would be four UN police officers.

The ceremony, which started with a review of FDS and FAFN troops, was marked by the presence of both Chiefs of Staff, Generals Philippe Mangou and Soumaïla Bakayoko who wanted all to show everyone that they now speak the same language.

On 16th April 2007 during the launching of the abolition process of the Zone of Confidence, the mixed brigade in N'Gattadolikro located in central Cote d'Ivoire was installed in the presence of President Laurent Gbagbo.