Côte d'Ivoire

Daily Brief on Côte d'Ivoire for 15 Oct 2008

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Highlights

- SRSG to meet Prime Minister ;

- Over 400 receive UN medals ;

- Bandits threaten UN staffers near Bouaké ;

- Rule of law team meets Forces Nouvelles prison official

SRSG to Meet Prime Minister

The Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations for Côte d'Ivoire, Mr. Y. J. Choi, is scheduled to have a working meeting with the Prime Minister of Côte d'Ivoire, Mr. Guillaume Soro, this afternoon, as part of his regular consultations with the political stakeholders in the peace process. The SRSG plans to discuss the identification and electoral census process, the conclusions from the meeting of the Evaluation and Monitoring Committee for the Ouagadougou Political Agreement, held in Ouagadougou yesterday, and the conclusions of the Forces Nouvelles seminar that ended last Sunday. [The Prime Minister is also the Secretary General of the Forces Nouvelles.]

Niger Battalion Decorated for Peacekeeping Duty

The Sector East Military Commander, Brigade General Choudhary Zafar, presided at a medal ceremony for peacekeepers from Niger that was held in Korhogo this morning. More than 400 soldiers and officers were decorated for their service with the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire. Colonel Abdul Karim Goukov, the commanding officer of the Niger Batallion, described the honour and dedication with which soldiers from Niger participate in UN Operations. Also at the ceremony were the Ambassador of Niger to Côte d'Ivoire, Mr. Yacouba Bakane, and the Chief of Operations of the Niger armed forces, Colonel Soumaila GARBA, who is on a working visit to the country.

Arms Embargo Inspections

Three arms embargo inspections were successfully carried out yesterday by UN police and military from Bouaké, Daoukro and Séguéla, while a fourth had to be postponed for technical reasons.

Security

On 14 October, the Regional Security Officer in Sector East reported that a UN electoral team consisting of two individuals was threatened by bandits on the Bouaké - Brobo road. A Quick Reaction Force (QRF) from PAKBATT was dispatched to the area immediately. The PAKBATT force found the electoral team safe and sound, and the team moved back to Bouaké. The bandits apparently vanished into the thick jungle on the arrival of the PAKBATT QRF. PAKBATT has increased patrolling on the road which is now safe for all kinds of traffic. The situation is calm.

UNPOL Bangolo yesterday reported in the western town of Man on prevailing ethnic tension between the inhabitants of Seo Guiglo and some Burkinabe in the village, following clashes that recently resulted in three deaths among members of both communities. UNOCI is closely monitoring the situation.

Outreach

Hundreds of people yesterday participated in the town of Touba (north-west) in the artistic caravan organized by UNOCI to promote peace and national reconciliation in Côte d'Ivoire. Various artists made live performances and UNOCI Electoral Section sensitized the public on the identification process, a key milestone on the road to elections.

Rule of Law

UNOCI's Rule of Law/Prisons Division met yesterday with the Deputy Director of the Cabinet of the Forces Nouvelles, Mr. Cissé Sindou, to discuss three people detained at the prison of Bouaké, who are suffering from hernias and need urgent hospitalization. The Rule of Law team learned that the security matters for the hospitalizations were guaranteed, but that the Forces Nouvelles refused to pay the 200.000 CFA for the hospitalization expenses, so surgical operations scheduled for today could not take place.

Human Rights

On 13 October, 4 Forces Nouvelles elements from the Anaconda battalion led by a Lieutenant Lorougnon arrested five men of the same family after failing to apprehend their relative whom they had sought to arrest on a charge of fraud. Two of the five were released on the same day, while the other three remained in custody at a place next to the residence of Commander Issiaka Ouattara alias "Wattao". The released men informed UNOCI human rights officers who met them on 14 October that Lieutenant Lorougnon had beaten them severely to force them to disclose the whereabouts of their relative. They requested the regional Human Rights Office's intervention to secure the release of their relatives. The office is following the case with the Forces Nouvelles authorities. Similar cases concerning arbitrary arrest, detention and ill-treatment of civilians by Forces Nouvelles elements commanded by Lieutenant Lorougnon were reported on 8 and 9 October.

On 14 October, the Regional Human Rights Office in Korhogo had a working session with the head of the police station, Commissioner Diomandé Moussa, to review cases of human rights abuse, including racketeering, committed by FN elements under his command. The Office was informed by reliable sources that FN elements request money to secure the release of some detainees and charge administrative fees. The commissioner told the Office that although action had been taken, racketeering continued because some FN elements had not been paid salaries.