Côte d'Ivoire

UNOCI still has a role to play in Côte d'Ivoire, says acting SRSG

The head of the United Nations Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) said Monday that a potentially groundbreaking peace deal struck in Ouagadougou between President Laurent Gbagbo and the Secretary-Genera of the Forces Nouvelles Guillaume Soro contained many elements already outlined by the UN to end a four-plus year long crisis in the West African country.

Speaking on ONUCI FM, the UN radio in Cote d'Ivoire, UNOCI's Acting Special Representative of the Secretary-General )SRSG) Mr. Abou Moussa outlined a series of critical areas - from an identification programme to the dismantling of militias and disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of the opposing forces - which were already present in UN Resolution 1721, adopted last November. These and other issues "were absolutely taken into consideration," in the Ouagadougou agreement signed Sunday, 4th March 2007 in Burkina Faso's capital, Mr. Moussa said.

Details about the future role of the UN's peacekeeping mission in Cote d'Ivoire must still be hammered out, he added. But, he noted: "What the UN will do was defined in the declaration of (Burkinabe) President (Blaise) Compaore, maybe not in detail, but from here on, I think we'll have a redefinition of how we can accompany the (peace) process."

Those details include the future role of the International Working Group monitoring the Cote d'Ivoire peace process and the eventual elimination, proposed in the Ouagadougou accord, of the Zone of Confidence -- a swath of territory patrolled by UN and French Licorne forces that separates the country's north and south.

"This must not be seen in an isolated manner," Mr. Moussa said of the zone, noting that it was initially the Ivorians who called for its creation. The zone's future, he said, would be part of a series of possible actions to be discussed at the UN Security Council.

Meanwhile, he added, a number of UNOCI actions in Cote d'Ivoire remained unchanged. "UNOCI will continue to offer its support, UNOCI will continue to follow, in the name of the international community, the development of the process," he said.

Now is also the occasion "to measure the sincerity of all the parties concerned" in the Ouagadougou agreement, said UNOCI's chief. "So there are roles that were reserved to us and that we will be playing fully."