Press Releases

    SG/SM/9173
    SC/8013
    AFR/852
    1 March 2004

    Strengthened UN Presence in Côte d’Ivoire Will Facilitate Humanitarian Assistance, Restoration of State Authority, Secretary-General Tells Security Council

    NEW YORK, 27 February (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the statement by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Security Council meeting on Côte d’Ivoire today:

    I would like to commend members of the Security Council for adopting this important resolution in support of the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire.

    Côte d’Ivoire has come a long way from the crisis that erupted in September 2002.  The conclusion of the Linas-Marcoussis Peace Agreement in January 2003 was an important achievement.  Most of last year, progress in the peace process was mixed with many delays in implementing the Agreement.  Just recently, however, the Ivorian parties have taken some further significant steps in the right direction.

    I am particularly encouraged that, last December, the parties completed the quartering of heavy weapons, as verified by the international community, including the United Nations Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (MINUCI).  The lifting of checkpoints established by the Forces armées nationales de Côte d’Ivoire (FANCI) and the Forces Nouvelles is also close to completion.

    In addition, the parties have recently agreed on arrangements to implement the disarmament, demobilization, reintegration and repatriation programme (DDRR).  Prime Minister Diarra has announced that the programme would start on 8 March.

    Another positive development, since the return of the Forces Nouvelles to the Government of National Reconciliation on 6 January, is that the Council of Ministers has begun considering the draft legislation and other reforms envisaged in the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement.

    I would like to commend President Gbagbo and Prime Minister Diarra for taking, together with the Forces Nouvelles, important political initiatives which have opened the way out of the impasse in the peace process.  I urge them to continue working together.

    However, there are some hard-line elements among the various Ivorian parties who remain determined to undermine the peace process. 

    They must not be allowed to succeed.

    The international community must therefore provide support to those who are working to promote peace in Côte d’Ivoire.  In this context, I would like to commend in particular the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and France, who have contributed significantly to the normalization of the situation in the country.  Their forces continue to play a crucial role in monitoring the ceasefire and preventing the resumption of conflict.

    In my report of 6 January to the Security Council, I recommended the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation in Côte d’Ivoire.  The establishment of such an operation, which has been requested by all Ivorian parties, will send a clear message that the international community supports the Ivorian peace process and is determined to play its role in the maintenance of peace and security in Africa.

    A strengthened United Nations presence in Côte d’Ivoire will make it easier for the Government of National Reconciliation to implement the DDRR programme. It will also facilitate the provision of humanitarian assistance and the restoration of State authority throughout the country; contribute to the promotion of human rights and the re-establishment of the rule of law; and help the country prepare for the holding of fair and transparent general elections in 2005. 

    I trust that, for their part, the Ivorian parties will continue to push forward, in a consensual manner, the political reforms they have embarked upon, in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement.

    There is no doubt that the deployment of a UN operation in Côte d’Ivoire will also have a positive impact on the efforts to stabilize the West African subregion as a whole.  I am particularly pleased that the various UN offices and missions in the subregion have already begun to work in close cooperation.  Every effort must be done to strengthen this cooperation. 

    In that context, I intend to present proposals concerning a residual UN presence in Sierra Leone in my next report to the Security Council in March.

    The operation in Côte d’Ivoire comes at a time when other UN and non-UN operations, either recently established or expected in the near future, require significant additional resources.  But I hope and trust that, guided by a spirit of solidarity, the international community will provide all the necessary resources, including well equipped and well trained military and police personnel, for the operation to be fully effective.

    The progress made by the Ivorian parties in recent weeks has given fresh impetus to the peace process.  The adoption of this resolution shows that the international community is determined to support this progress and to help ensure that there is no turning back.

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