1. The present report was prepared pursuant to resolution 1826 (2008), by which the Security Council renewed the mandate of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) and the French Licorne force until 31 January 2009, and requested me to report, no later than 15 October 2008, on the situation in Côte d'Ivoire, including on preparations for elections. The report covers major developments in Côte d'Ivoire since my report of 10 July 2008 (S/2008/451).
II. Political developments
2. The political atmosphere in Côte d'Ivoire remained positive during the period under review. All political parties intensified their information and sensitization campaign activities throughout the country as preparations for the presidential election gathered pace. Political leaders and party activists were able to move freely throughout the country, including the hitherto volatile western region and the north. The ruling Front populaire ivorien political party held a national convention in Yamoussoukro on 30 August, where it nominated President Laurent Gbagbo as its candidate for the presidential election. The Vice-President of the party, Simone Gbagbo, conducted a two-week campaign in the northern part of the country, during which she visited Béoumi, Bouaké, Dabakala, Katiola and Tafiré. During the campaign, she called for the accelerated implementation of provisions of the Ouagadougou Agreement that relate to the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the Forces nouvelles and for the establishment of unified armed forces before the elections.
3. The opposition Parti démocratique de Côte d'Ivoire conducted a one-week sensitization campaign in the region of the Vallée du Bandama while the party's leader and candidate for the presidential election, former President Henri Konan Bédié, toured the north for a six-day period in August, visiting Béoumi, Bouaké, Dabakala, Djébonoua, Katiola and Sakassou. Senior officials of Alassane Ouattara's Rassemblement des républicains party, including its Secretary-General, Henriette Diabaté, launched similar campaigns in the south-east of the country in August. During the night of 10 August, groups of youth loyal to the ruling party stormed a hotel where Mrs. Diabaté and her delegation stayed and attempted to attack her party's followers. Mrs. Diabaté was able to return to Abidjan safely with the help of the Ivorian security forces. On 4 October, the Rassemblement des républicains held its national convention in Yamoussoukro, where Alassane Ouattara was designated as the party's candidate in the upcoming presidential election. Meanwhile, civil society groups also intensified their activities. They adopted a code of conduct to govern their activities during the electoral period and created a mechanism for monitoring the implementation of the Ouagadougou Agreement.
4. As part of his regular consultations, my Special Representative, Mr. Y. J. Choi, continued to meet with the Ivorian political leaders, including President Gbagbo, Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, Mr. Bédié and Mr. Ouattara, to exchange views on the status of preparations for the electoral process and UNOCI support for the implementation of the Ouagadougou Agreement. He consulted the leaders on the comprehensive security plan for the elections, which was developed jointly by the Ivorian security forces, UNOCI and Licorne. In addition, he held regular consultations with the Facilitator of the Ivorian peace process, the President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré, on outstanding issues relating to the implementation of the Ouagadougou Agreement.
5. The Facilitator convened two meetings of the Evaluation and Monitoring Committee, comprising the representatives of the signatories of the Ouagadougou Agreement, which was created to monitor the implementation of the Agreement and to address any arising obstacles. The first meeting took place on 10 July and was attended by Prime Minister Soro, members of the international consultative organ, the Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Robert Mambé, and the French Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Alain Joyandet. At the meeting, ways of addressing the logistical constraints that were impeding the launching of the identification and voter registration processes were discussed. The second meeting was held from 15 to 17 September and focused on measures to resolve the long-standing issue of the ranks and numbers of Forces nouvelles personnel who should be integrated into the new army. President Gbagbo also maintained regular contacts with the Facilitator and visited Ouagadougou on 28 July for consultations on the peace process.