ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, January 27, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Summary of the weekly press conference of the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI)
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Côte d’Ivoire, Bert Koenders, will give a presentation on Thursday 26 January 2012 on the situation in Côte d’Ivoire to the UN Security Council, the spokesman of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Hamadoun Touré, announced on Thursday in Bongouanou.
“During his presentation, Mr. Koenders would be focussing on progress and challenges in the areas of security, national reconciliation and political dialogue to pave the way for economic recovery and development,” Mr. Touré stated at the mission’s weekly press conference, which took place in Bongouanou within the framework of UNOCI Days, held in this locality located 204 km northeast of Abidjan.
The Spokesman said that while some encouraging signs had been observed, violent incidents marred the daily lives of some populations. “All that shows that much remains to be done, including in the process of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration/Security sector reform (DDR/SSR),” Mr. Touré said.
He indicated that the other challenge was the promotion of political dialogue. For that reason, the Special Representative has taken many initiatives targeting the government and the opposition in order to facilitate and encourage discussions between them, the spokesman stressed. “Before the presentation to the Security Council, Mr. Koenders had consultations with the diplomatic community accredited to the United Nations,” he said, adding that the Special Representative had also had separate meetings with the representatives of permanent members of the Council, namely China, the United States, the United Kingdom and Russia. “He briefed them and requested the international community’s support for UNOCI so as to accelerate the return to normalcy in the country,” Mr. Touré stated.
With regard to the activities of UNOCI’s military force, Mr. Touré stated that the blue helmets had carried out 1,506 patrols during the just-ended week, and distributed 45,000 litres of water.
In the area of sensitization and discussions with the population, which include the UNOCI Days, the spokesman explained the concept of the latter. “This 19th edition of UNOCI Days will enable the different sections of the population to benefit from free medical care, to say in all frankness what they expect from the mission, to better understand how UNOCI intends to accompany Côte d’Ivoire in this post-crisis period and make concrete proposals in terms of contributions to support the peace process,” he explained.
Still on the issue of the 19th UNOCI Days, he mentioned social actions for the benefit of the population such as the inauguration of the central market in Arrah, about 26 km from Bongouanou, and the sports and cultural activities to be held during the three days of communion between the population of the area and UNOCI.
Mentioning other activities organised by UNOCI on the margins of UNOCI Days, Mr. Touré said a workshop for the media was being held in Kotobi, 8 km from Bongouanou, on the theme of “Private non-profit radios and the challenges of a successful resolution of the post-election crisis”. Thirty persons from community radios in the area were invited to the workshop. Mr. Touré also announced the holding of an awareness-raising workshop in the town of Kossou, aimed at building capacity among opinion leaders with regard to social cohesion and national reconciliation.
Turning to sports, the spokesman stated that the mission was continuing its projection of matches of the 28th edition of the African Football Cup of Nations in various towns.
Journalists asked questions related to the new mandate of UNOCI, insecurity and certification. “UNOCI’s mandate is the purview of the Security Council,” the spokesman said. He also conveyed the mission’s concern about the destruction of prisons during the post-election crisis. In this regard, he indicated that the international community was mobilized to help Côte d’Ivoire rehabilitate its prisons.
On the issue of certification, the spokesman explained that the idea was to state whether the elections had been conducted in conformity with national and international norms. “Certification is in no way a sanction, and it comes after the Independent Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Council,” he said.
Queried about the durability of UNOCI’s actions, Mr. Touré insisted on the need for the population to take ownership of all the things that are being done, including training, workshops and seminars.”UNOCI does not have a vocation to remain in Côte d’Ivoire and it hopes that all the actions it has undertaken here and there will be useful even after it leaves,” he said.
On the proliferation of arms in Côte d’Ivoire, the Spokesman assured journalists that this was a concern both for the mission and for the population. “Disarmament is more topical than ever,” he said, recalling that, at the moment, disarmament was voluntary.
Mr. Touré stressed the attachment of the mission to freedom of peaceful demonstration, assembly and expression. He also explained that ensuring security at demonstrations was the work of the police and gendarmerie and that the UNOCI forces could not replace the Ivorian ones.
Finally, the Spokesman recalled the important role of community radios. “We attach importance to cooperation with the community radios because they are close to the population and relay messages of peace, reconciliation and social cohesion,” he stressed, urging the radios to focus on giving correct information.
Mission of UN in Côte d’Ivoire