Côte d'Ivoire

Summary of UNOCI weekly press conference - 22 Mar 2007

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UNOCI ACTING HEAD DELIVERS A MESSAGE FROM UN SECRETARY GENERAL BAN KI MOON TO BURKINA FASO PRESIDENT

Acting Chief of Mission for the United Nations Operation in Cote d'Ivoire Abou Moussa flew to Ouagadougou Thursday with a message for Burkinabe President Blaise Campaore, ONUCI spokesman Hamadoun Toure said.

Prior to his departure, Mr. Moussa held meetings with key Ivorian politicians, Toure said, during a weekly press conference at ONUCI's headquarters in Abidjan. That includes talks Wednesday with Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI) President Affi Nguessan and with a delegation from the Rally of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peaace (RHDP), headed by Alphonse Djedje Mady. More discussions are expected with other Ivorian political parties, Toure added.

During Wednesday's talks, Mr. Moussa briefed the Ivorian politicians about his visit last week to the UN headquarters in New York, where he presented the 12th report of the UN Secretary General on ONUCI before the Security Council.

He also offered clarifications on the March 4 Ouagadougou Accord signed in Burkina Faso by Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and Forces Nouvelles Secretary General Guillaume Soro. Mr. Moussa believes both parties appear to have a positive attitude toward realizing the agreement, Toure said.

Through these discussions and other initiatives, UNOCI is playing its role in accompanying the peace process, the UN spokesman said. The mission also wants to make sure that all the conditions are in place for peace to return to Cote d'Ivoire. That particularly includes political support in realizing the Ouagadougou agreement, Toure said.

Separately, UNOCI hailed Wednesday's award of a "National Cohesion prize" to its Messenger of Peace, world-renown Ivorian musician Alpha Blondy, for his efforts to heal differences in this West African country. The prize was bestowed by a local nongovernmental organization, Notre Nation.

UNOCI also encouraged three other prize recipients - youth leaders Charles Ble Goude, Bertin Konan Kouadio and Yayoro Karamoko - to consolidate the nonaggression pact they sealed and to contribute positively to the rapid and thorough implemnentation of the Ouagadougou accord, Toure said.

On another issue, UNOCI will hold a seminar Friday, March 23, on the role of NGOs in protecting people who are detained or imprisoned, the OIC of the human rights Division Guillaume Ngefa announced.

The French military operation in Cote d'Ivoire, Licorne, will also be reducing and redeploying part of its force in the western part of the country "in the coming months," Licorne spokesman Christian Rascle announced at the press conference. The reduction, however, will not affect Licorne's assistance to UNOCI forces and to the overall peacekeeping mission here, Rascle said.