afrol News, 28 September - As the long awaited elections in Côte d'Ivoire finally seem to be organised next month, both the African Union (AU) and the UN seek to secure the delicate exercise. 500 extra UN troops are already approved of.
The AU, still seeming somewhat sceptical to the announcement that presidential elections will be held in Côte d'Ivoire on 31 October, yesterday announced it was to send a delegation to the West African country "to assess the situation in that country and identify measures to further contribute to process for a way out of the crisis."
The AU is a major player in the Ivorian conflict, with Burkinabe President Blaise Compaoré acting as the facilitator of the inter-Ivorian dialogue. The delegation is to seek a "smooth conduct of the electoral process."
The UN, for once, seems to have a more forceful approach to the upcoming Ivorian elections. The UN Security Council today agreed to deploy "up to 500 additional" UN troops to "assist with security during the election period."
The UN body today said it had taken note of the 24 September certification of the final voters list of 5.7 million that was agreed on by the parties. "The members of the Security Council urge the Ivorian stakeholders to meet their commitments to organise the first round of the elections on 31 October," a Security Council statement said.
The UN mission in Côte d'Ivoire, known as UNOCI, has been providing logistical and technical assistance for the preparations for the presidential polls, which were supposed to have been held as far back as 2005 in the country, which became split by civil war in 2002 into a rebel-held north and government-controlled south.
However, the elections have been repeatedly postponed, most recently from March this year. Last week's agreement on an election date has been the most binding decision among the many conflicting parties to actually go through with the delayed elections.
The Security Council decision came in response to a recommendation by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The Council agreed to deploy up to 500 additional uniformed personnel to UNOCI for "no more than six months" to reinforce the mission's capacity to contribute to the security arrangements before, during and after the elections.
Established in 2004, UNOCI is tasked with facilitating aspects of the peace process, including those related to elections, disarmament and the reunification of the country.
Today's statement followed a closed-door briefing to the Council by the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Côte d’Ivoire and head of UNOCI, who told reporters that he did not think violence would be an issue "since all the candidates are committed to democratic principles."
"I am confident that the 31 October first round will take place peacefully," he further stated.
Under Côte d'Ivoire's electoral law, a second round of voting should take place on 28 November if there is no clear winner in the first round.
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