Côte d'Ivoire

Daily Brief on Côte d'Ivoire for 10 Nov 2008

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Highlights

- UNOCI receives unconfirmed reports say Liberian ex-combatants in Ivorian border town

- Final agreement reached on peacekeepers redeployment in Divo

- Ghanaian troops donate goods and food to Bouaké orphanage

Security

UNOCI has received unconfirmed reports that a platoon of ex-combatants from Liberia has crossed into Côte d'Ivoire and established a camp in the Toulepleu area (west). The group is said to be trying to team up with disgruntled former pro-government militia in order to disrupt the ongoing peace process. Two groups of National Armed Forces of Côte d'Ivoire (FANCI) Special Forces have been deployed in the town at the request of the Prefect.

Several people were injured and others arrested when two groups of students from the University of Bouaké clashed violently in Bouaké during the weekend. The dispute was over the number of students who were awarded grants. Some of the students claimed that the number was far too small while others did not seem to have any objections. The two groups had to be separated by Armed Forces of the Forces Nouvelles (FAFN) soldiers. On Monday, 3 November 2008, a group of students had violently demonstrated in Bouaké for the same reason. Those arrested were later released while those injured only suffered minor cuts and bruises.

A total of five alleged bandits were killed in the Boundiali and Korhogo areas (north) recently, when FAFN soldiers and dozos (traditional hunters) foiled roadside attacks by armed attackers. On 29 October, three alleged criminals were killed and one arrested near the Lagnon village, 93 km west of Korhogo (north) when six masked and armed individuals tried to attack a public transport minibus. One of the dead was reported to be an FAFN soldier. On 5 November 2008, two more corpses were discovered, they belonged to people killed by local residents during an attempted robbery in Boundiali.

Redeployment of UNOCI peacekeepers

UNOCI has reached a final agreement on the redeployment of its peacekeepers in Divo (centre-west) after a delegation met with the Mayor, the President of the General Council, elected officials and traditional chiefs on 7 November 2008. Three potential sites were visited and a final selection was made by the local officials and agreed to by UNOCI. However, the President of the General Council, who is vigorously opposed to the Mission's presence, did not agree with the decision. Meanwhile, the Mission's Moroccan peacekeepers and staff from the civilian engineering section will start work on the site on 12 November 2008. It should be recalled that the Mission has been trying to reach agreement on the redeployment of its troops in the town for several months. In June 2008, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Côte d'Ivoire, Y.J. Choi met with the population to explain that UNOCI needed to have a presence in the town in order to fulfill its mandate. Since the inception of the Mission in 2004, people in Divo have been vigorously opposed to its presence in Côte d'Ivoire.

Electoral process

A UNOCI team, that went to the western town of Kouibly, near has been told that the regional head of the Independent Electoral Commission has refused to publish the names of people who have been recruited to work on the identification and voter registration process because local applicants who passed the test have not heard about their recruitment. The team also learnt that everyone on the list that has been sent to Kouibly is from Abidjan. The regional head is reluctant to publish the list because youths from the town had previously threatened to disrupt the process if local people who meet the criteria are not recruited. Meanwhile some 32 youths who have been recruited from Abidjan and deployed in Kouibly have complained to UNOCI that they have not received their allowances although they said that the Forces Nouvelles authorities have been providing them with food and other essentials.

Humanitarian

UNOCI's GHANAVIATION yesterday donated fans, food items and medicines to "La Pouponnière" orphanage in Bouaké. Since its arrival in Cote d'Ivoire, the Ghanaian contingent has regularly supported the orphanage which it helped to rehabilitate through the Mission's Quick Impact Project (QIP) programme this year. In the past, the contingent has also installed two big water tanks in the orphanage. Though the contingent is rotating in the next few days, its Commanding Offficer assured the children that the next contingent would continue with the humanitarian activities at the orphanage.

Human Rights

Following the intervention of the Regional Human Rights Office in Odienné, the Regional Directorate for Education (DREN) has agreed to establish a community school in Kodougou, 15 km west of Odienné (north). The Office decided to intervene after the village chief and other local dignitaries sought its assistance to help convince the local education authority. The village has more than 60 children aged three to seven who currently do not go to school because the nearest one is five km away and already oversubscribed. It should be noted that the Office in collaboration with the DREN has already established seven community primary schools.

The Regional Human Rights Office in Duékoué held a working session with the Commander of the Mixed Brigade in the western town of Bangolo to discuss the deteriorating security situation in the area. The Commander assured the Office that they were doing all they could to improve the situation and recalled that his men had responded swiftly on 1 November 2008, when an armed group tried to attack the Medecins Sans Frontières hospital in the town. On the arrival of the Mixed Brigade, the attackers had fled.