2 December 2003
SECRETARY-GENERAL WARNS COTE D’IVOIRE ‘COULD SLIP BACK INTO CONFLICT’ IN STATEMENT TO SECURITY COUNCIL
NEW YORK, 1 December (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks at the meeting of the Security Council with the Ministers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Côte d’Ivoire at Headquarters, 24 November:
Allow me to begin by congratulating the leaders of ECOWAS, in particular Presidents Kufuor and Obasanjo, for their unflagging efforts to find a solution to the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire.
I should also like to thank all those countries which provided troops for the ECOWAS Mission in Côte d’Ivoire (MICECI). They are implementing their mandate in very difficult conditions. However, thanks to them and to the French forces of Operation Licorne, it has been possible to avoid any escalation of the conflict so far.
However, I am deeply concerned by the current political stalemate, which was created by the withdrawal of the Forces Nouvelles from the Government of National Reconciliation on 23 September. Unless urgent steps are taken to resolve that impasse, the tenuous security situation in the country could deteriorate further.
Already, there are signs that the situation in some parts of the northern provinces controlled by the Forces Nouvelles is degenerating into lawlessness. Tension between the Forces Nouvelles and the Forces armées nationales de Côte d’Ivoire (FANCI) is also escalating. In this context, the Forces Nouvelles have declared a state of emergency in areas under their control, and accused President Gbagbo of preparing to attack their positions. There is clearly a danger that Côte d’Ivoire could slip back into conflict.
I was pleased to note that, during the summit of seven ECOWAS leaders held in Accra on 11 November, President Gbagbo and Prime Minister Diarra undertook to work closely together to ensure that the Government of National Reconciliation is able to function, and to implement the work programme developed by the Government last May. It is indeed essential that the Government be able to carry out the tasks assigned to it under the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement with the necessary means and authority.
The undertakings made by the President and Prime Minister in Accra must be matched by deeds. In this regard, all parties concerned must demonstrate genuine political will to honour their commitments and implement the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement in good faith.
In order to jump-start the stalled peace process, the parties must tackle the fundamental issues behind the deadlock.
As indicated in my latest report to the Security Council, issued on 4 November, implementation of the key provisions of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement must begin without delay.
I urge the Ivorian parties to take the key measures identified in that report immediately. These measures include the following:
-- the Forces Nouvelles must rejoin the Government of National Reconciliation without delay;
-- all parties must accept the Government of National Reconciliation as fully constituted after the appointment of the Defence and Security Ministers on 12 September;
-- all militias must begin to disband immediately;
-- the armed groups must be cantoned and disarmed as soon as possible, while at the same time the country’s security forces are restructured;
-- the de facto partition of the country must end at once; and
-- the National Assembly must adopt, as soon as possible, the reforms proposed in the Government’s work programme.
The United Nations reaffirms its commitment to continue to work closely with ECOWAS in the pursuit of peace in Côte d’Ivoire and to help implement the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement. I intend soon to send an assessment mission to Côte d’Ivoire to review the situation on the ground, so that I can prepare recommendations for the consideration of the Council, pursuant to resolution 1514 (2003), which requested me to report on how the United Nations Mission in Côte d’Ivoire’s efforts to facilitate peace and stability in Côte d’Ivoire might be improved, including possibly reinforcement of the United Nations presence in this country.
Finally, let me appeal once again to all members of this Council and to the international community as a whole to remain engaged in Côte d’Ivoire and to provide the necessary support to enable the ECOWAS forces to continue its useful work in that country.
* *** *