Côte d'Ivoire

Daily Brief on Cote d'Ivoire for Tuesday 15 May 2007

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Highlights

- UNOCI officer in charge a.i. off to Ouagadougou for meeting with Facilitator

- State of former ZOC in Sector East still unclear

- BANBATT carries out special operation to show UNOCI presence in Zaibo

- UNOCI concerned over increased crime in Prikro, Ferkessedougou, Brobo and Bouna

Political

UNOCI interim Officer-in-charge Abou Moussa traveled to Ouagadougou today, Tuesday, for talks with the facilitator of the direct dialogue between the Ivorian parties in connection with the evaluation of the implementation of the March 4 agreement between President Laurent Gbagbo and Forces Nouvelles leader Guillaume Soro.

Military

UNOCI's military in Sector East are still in charge of the former Zone of Confidence despite the official start of its gradual dismantling on 16 April 2007. The Deputy Sector Commander stated today that there are no functioning mixed brigades in the Sector, which means that the UN remains officially in charge of this part of the zone. In the meantime, the rules pertaining to the former ZOC still apply - which means that no one with arms is allowed to enter it and any criminal activity would be dealt with by UNOCI. According to the terms of the Ouagadougou Agreement, 50% of the mixed brigades should have been deployed by today.

A special operation was conducted by BANBATT yesterday in the western area of Zaibo. Two patrols from Daloa and Bonoufla participated in this operation, which was aimed at checking the area and showing UNOCI's presence. The patrols later met at Zaibo to exchange patrol details.

Security

UNOCI's military in Sector East is concerned about increased criminality in three areas in the sector: Kouassi-Kouassikro, in the former Zone of Confidence between Brobo and Bouna; Prikro, on the edge of the former ZOC and some 60 km north of Daoukro; and Ferkessedougou, where bandits have been active and three people have gone missing since the beginning of the month. Their blood-stained clothes were found, but there was no other evidence of what could have happened to them.

UNOCI civilian and military personnel have noticed an increase in the number of checkpoints on the main road between Bouaké and Yamoussoukro and other new checkpoints around the former ZOC in Sector East. The military stated this morning that such checkpoints had increased on both sides of the former ZOC and that racketeering might be on the increase as the crisis comes to an end.

UNPOL and the mixed brigade in Bangolo are investigating the death of a man whose body was found in Pona village yesterday. According to information given to UNOCI peacekeepers at the operation post in Bagohouo, the dead man, Jules Kouassi, was a resident of Yaodekro village.

Pupils from the Grammar School in Daoukro yesterday marched to the Prefet's office to protest against what they described as "misconduct" by their teachers. Around 200 students took part in the protest, which ended peacefully.

Human Rights

A delegation from the Human Rights Division, led by its Chief, Simon Munzu, pursued its field visit in Sakassou and Bouaké on 13 and 14 May with meetings with military and civilian authorities of the Forces Nouvelles as well as with local civil society organizations. In Sakassou, located 40 km from Bouaké, Mr. Munzu, together with Forces Nouvelles Commander Haïdara, Sector Commander of Sakassou, reviewed the overall situation in the region. The Sector Commander said the human rights situation had improved as well as relations between the civilian population and the FAFN. However concern remained about the ongoing tension between the Peuhl (cattle breeders) and Baoulé (farmers) communities, and racketeering that he attributed to uncontrolled FDS-FN elements. He added that the human rights sensitization campaign conducted by the Bouaké regional human rights office in the FN military camps had contributed to a reduction of the frequency of violations committed by these elements. In this regard, he called upon the Human Rights Division to relaunch this campaign as soon as possible.

In Bouaké, the Chief of the Human Rights Division held a working session with the Dozos (traditional hunters), blamed in reports by human rights organizations for several abuses and exactions against civilians. Chief Fomba admitted that some Dozo volunteers had been integrated into the FAFN, but explained that their role was to provide security for the population, including through the arrest of civilians involved in crimes and handing them over to the police. He denied allegations that they administered justice and imposed fines and other penalties.

The delegation also visited the Poste de Commandement Opérationnel (PCO), that is partly in charge of administering justice. Mr. Koné Issouf of the judicial service of the PCO said that his service only settled civil cases in which civilians as well as military elements are involved. Serious crimes are referred to the Police Prefect for further action.

Finally, on 14 May, the delegation met with the civil authorities of the FN to review the situation, including all concerns brought to its attention during the field visits in the Korhogo and Bouaké regions. The Chief of the Human Rights Division urged Forces Nouvelles authorities to enable the reopening of at least one or two courts in their zone in order to put an end to the informal administration of justice, which does not guarantee fundamental rights and freedoms.