Côte d'Ivoire

Daily brief on Côte d'Ivoire for Tuesday, 11 Jun 2007

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Highlights

- ONUCI holds a seminar on the coverage of the electoral process

- DPKO team visits Sector West Headquarters

- Licorne to carry out several operations

- Militia leaders reject the figure of 2,000 militia members for disarmament;

- Young Patriot leader visits Bouaké

Information and Electoral Process

A three-day seminar aimed at providing Ivorian journalists with the tools they need to cover upcoming elections in a professional manner, organized by the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (ONUCI) in collaboration with the International Foundation of Election Systems (IFES), began today, 11 June 2007, at ONUCI's headquarters in Abidjan. Some 35 print and broadcast journalists - including editors and heads of political desks of newspapers - are attending the seminar, which will be followed on 15-16 June by a similar event in Bouaké. Monday's opening session of the seminar was addressed by Justice and Human Rights Minister Mamadou Koné, a representative of Communication Minister Ibrahim Sy Savané, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Chairman Robert Mambé Beugré, and ONUCI officer-in-charge, Abou Moussa, who declared the event open.

Mr Moussa recalled that the seminar was part of ONUCI's efforts to help restore peace in Côte d'Ivoire by providing training to journalists, thereby complementing the work done by the mission in other areas, including the military, security, DDR, public information etc. Elections, he noted, present a major challenge for media, all the more so in countries emerging from crises, and journalists need to be objective and responsible. Even when they write for political media, they need to work objectively, seek out the truth, strive after balance, refrain from insults and calumnies, and avoid stigmatizing groups or communities, whether ethnic, national or religious. They also need to work as guardians of the election process, Mr Moussa noted.

Justice Minister Mamadou Koné referred to the role journalists are called upon to play in the area of educating the public on democracy and the election process. He said a major communication campaign was envisaged to inform the public on the calendar, modus operandi and all other aspects of the electoral process, and for it to be successful, journalists needed to relay information to the public without passion, and as objectively as possible.

Monday morning's session also included presentations by the head of ONUCI's Electoral Assistance Division, Ahmedou El Bécaye Seck - who spoke on free, fair and open elections, and international standards in this regard - and Professor Ouaraga Obou, a well-known Ivorian legal expert, who addressed the specificities of Ivorian electoral laws.

DPKO team

A DPKO Management Review team currently on mission to Côte d'Ivoire yesterday visited Sector West Headquarters in Daloa and held a meeting with military and civilian section chiefs. The team received a thorough brief on the situation in the area, particularly on operational and administrative issues.

Peace and reconciliation

The leader of the Young Patriots, Charles Bé Goudé visited Bouaké at the weekend as a sign of reconciliation, Team site Bouaké reported. The Young Patriot leader had not gone to Bouaké, the main town in the Forces Nouvelles area, since the start of the political-military crisis in September 2002, local newspapers reported. According to Team site Bouaké, he visited the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Forces Nouvelles (FAFN), where he gave interview, and later met with FAFN representatives. He also addressed a meeting in Bouaké, media reported.

Security

In Boué, insecurity is a major concern for the local population. This village, located a few kilometers from Man, has been experiencing many attacks and robberies of late. The last one was perpetrated on Friday. The attacks follow the same scenario: 3 to 4 masked persons wearing civilian clothes and armed with AK 47s enter the village and ransack everything. The chief of the village told the UN team site that numerous complaints had been addressed to the FAFN sector commander, but no particular action had been taken by the military chiefs of the movement, who in fact, never went to the village to investigate. Many residents of Boué are afraid for their lives and have to go into the bush at night in order to avoid the attacks. The population is hoping that the impartial forces and UN will help to restore peace in the village.

BANBAT 3 provided security and protection to the Ivorian Minister of Transport, Dr. Albert Mabri Toikeusse, who traveled to Danane to attend a public meeting.

Licorne Forces will carry out several company-level operations within the coming days. The aim is to demonstrate the determination of the Impartial Forces in Cote d'Ivoire and Licorne's capacity to support UNOCI elements as a quick-reaction force on short notice.

DDM

Militia leaders in the Moyen-Cavally department confirmed that they still have weapons and that they disagreed with the figure of 2 000 set for the number of militiamen to be taken into account by the disarmament and dismantling of militias (DDM) process, BENINBAT reported. During a meeting held on 8 June in the western town of Blolequin, the Front de libération du Grand Ouest (FLGO), represented by Filbert Déou and Tao Blaise, requested that up to 1,019 Blolequin militiamen be paid the "filet de sécurité" (a form of disarmament allowance) . They also said that they did not recognize Mao Glofei as their legal representative. The prefect of Blolequin told them that the number of militias to be taken care of could not be changed.

In Daloa, some 350 former militiamen of the Front pour la libération totale de l'Ouest (FLTO) have been demonstrating over the past weeks to press their demand for inclusion in the DDM.