Côte d'Ivoire

UN envoy urges Ivorian rebels to take chances so as to restore peace

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The head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Côte d'Ivoire has urged the major rebel group, which has expressed scepticism about several political developments, to "take risks for the return of peace."

At a meeting earlier this week between the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG), Pierre Schori, two representatives of mediating South African President Thabo Mbeki and members of the Monitoring Committee for the peace process, the leaders of the rebel Forces Nouvelles said they were sceptical about holding national elections on 30 October, the mission said.

Forces Nouvelles told Mr. Schori in Bouaké, the rebel stronghold, that, despite the increased involvement of the UN in organizing the elections, the basic problem that had led to the political crisis in 2002, the dispute over citizenship qualifications for presidential candidates, had not been resolved, the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) said.

The rebels favour northern political leader Alassane Ouattara, the citizenship of whose parents has been contested. A 2002 coup attempt against Mr. Gbagbo failed.

In addition, the 2003 Linas-Marcoussis Agreement that ended the bitter fighting against the Government had not set an electoral deadline and the October date had been unilaterally chosen by President Laurent Gbagbo, Forces Nouvelles said.

In response, Mr. Schori said, "You must take risks for the return of peace."

He noted that the latest Security Council resolution contained guarantees for the organization of the electoral process and had taken into consideration the safety of the political leaders.

The disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) process had to more forward now and the South African team which arrived yesterday in Boaké would discuss the follow-up to the Pretoria Agreement, an accord which filled some gaps in Linas-Marcoussis, Mr. Schori said.