Côte d'Ivoire

Daily Brief on Côte d'Ivoire for 21 Oct 2008

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Highlights

- SRSG meets PDCI president Henri Konan Bédie in Yamoussoukro

- Lack of security provisions and striking civil servants hampering identification process

- UNOCI artistic caravan visits Gagnoa

Political

SRSG Choi today met with the president of the Democratic Party of Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI), Henri Konan Bedié, in Yamoussoukro to discuss with him the progress made so far and the various challenges confronting the electoral process. The meeting is part of UNOCI Chief's regular consultations with Ivorian political leaders with a view to expediting the peace process as a whole. Mr. Choi and Mr. Bedie discussed the identification and voter registration processes and reiterated the need to hold the exercise in a secure environment to pave the way for peaceful elections. Meanwhile, Mr. Bedié yesterday held a political rally in Bouaflé, 320 km north-west of Abidjan, during which he urged thousands of his supporters to register for the identification process and to enlist to vote in the upcoming elections.

Electoral process Reports reaching UNOCI teams monitoring the identification process, indicate that most of the centres, particularly in Abidjan, are not operating due to civil servants striking over the non-payment of their salaries, as well as the lack of adequate security. Out of 28 centres visited by JORBATT, TOGOBATT and the Abidjan Reserve Team, only five were open. UNOCI forces provided security at some of the centres.

DDR

The 10th phase of the regrouping and demobilization of soldiers from the Armed Forces of the Forces Nouvelles (FAFN) began in Bouaké yesterday. It is expected to be completed today. So for 292 have volunteered for the new reunified army, while 101 have been demobilized.

Security

Young people from Béoué village, near Bloléquin, this morning blocked the road between Guiglo and Bloléquin, during a demonstration against the local authorities. The protest was against what they described as a unilateral decision by the District Administrator (Sous-préfet) of Zéaglo to return internally displaced persons (IDPs) to the area without first consulting them.

Employees from the National Agency for Rural Support and Development (ANADER) yesterday started a strike in the western city of Man, demanding that they be paid a salary commensurate with the status of the organisation. ANADER's status was changed from a public structure to a private enterprise in 1998. The strikers claim that they were told then that their salaries would change accordingly but nothing has been done so far. They warn that the initial strike will be for four days but if no action is taken, they will go on an indefinite strike.

On the night of 17 October 2008, four unidentified men, armed with a Kalashnikov, two rifles and a shotgun attacked a businesswoman in her home in the western town of Duekoué in the Moyen Cavally region. She was badly beaten with the butt of a gun by her assailants before they escaped with 245,000 FCFA (around $500). The police have launched a criminal investigation into the incident.

Villagers in Bocado2, a village situated 17 km from Dimbokro (centre), told a UNOCI patrol yesterday that people were being regularly attacked by armed men along the Dimbokro - Bocanda road.

Culture and peace

The UNOCI artistic caravan on 19 October 2008, reached Gagnoa (centre-west). A group of singers, musicians and other artistes performed in front of local authorities and hundreds of other people. The artistic caravan, aimed at sensitizing the population on peace, national reconciliation, and other important issues such as the identification process, was launched on 1 October 2008 and has so far visited 15 cities in Côte d'Ivoire. It will end in Abidjan on UN Day, on 24 October 2008.

Human Rights

The Regional Human Rights Office in Bouaké has received reports that, on 29 September, the director of a local primary school called "Petit Lycée 1" was physically assaulted FAFN soldiers. The victim was allegedly stopped by the soldiers in the Koko district of Bouaké, for incompetent driving. He was then reportedly dragged out of the car, hit on the right jaw with a two-way radio before being kicked until he lost consciousness. The victim was treated at the Bouaké Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) after which he lodged a complaint with the FN Secretary General and the préfét of the Vallée du Bandama region. The Office is following the case. Meanwhile, the Office held a meeting with the FAFN authorities to discuss appropriate action to take against two soldiers from the Anaconda battalion who physically assaulted a man at the Antenne de la radio checkpoint on 16 October 2008. The victim received medical care at UNOCI's Level 2 hospital on the same day and was transferred on the following day to the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire in Bouaké for further treatment. The Office was assured by the FAFN authorities that an internal investigation would be conducted into the matter.

On 19 October, the Regional Human Rights Office in Odienné conducted a one-day training session on human rights standards and elections for 23 members of the human rights promotion and protection cells in Touba and Koro (northwest).