Press Releases

                30 July 2004

    Secretary-General Calls for “Commitment and Compromise” to Move Côte d’Ivoire Peace Process forward, in Remarks to Accra Meeting

    NEW YORK, 29 July (UN Headquarters) -- Following are Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s remarks at the opening of the plenary session of the High-Level Meeting on Côte d’Ivoire:

    Let me welcome the Heads of State and Ivorian leaders participating in this meeting. Your presence here shows that you are committed to working together to end the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire -- a crisis that has brought disastrous consequences for the country and for the West African subregion.

    Let me also commend the determined efforts of the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to bring their respective strengths to bear on the search for solutions to conflicts throughout Africa, and to do so in a concerted manner.

    And, of course, let me say a special word of thanks to our host and co-chair, President Kufuor. I’m sure I speak for all of us in paying tribute to his dedication and leadership in the work for peace in the region.

    This meeting, following up on the mini-summit in Addis Ababa on 6 July, is a unique opportunity to put the peace process in Côte d’Ivoire back on track.

    I appeal to the Ivorian parties here today to make full use of this opportunity.  I look to you to put aside partisan and personal interests, and work together in a spirit of commitment and compromise.

    Only in this way can you forge the political consensus needed to move forward on the implementation of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement. That Agreement remains the road map for resolving the crisis, and bringing an end to the long and deep suffering of the people of Côte d’Ivoire.

    The road map involves a broad range of measures. Let me outline a few priority issues where I believe we must reach consensus at this meeting, and for which we need a time-bound action plan for implementation.

    A top priority is reconstituting the Government of National Reconciliation. A functioning Government is vital to restoring normality in the country. That means we need clarity on the delegation of powers from the President to the Prime Minister.

    I also urge all Ivorian parties to show the flexibility required to achieve a political compromise on Article 35, regarding the criteria of eligibility to contest presidential elections.

    I also hope you will reach consensus on adopting and implementing legislation envisaged under the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement. That includes the nationality code, the composition of the Independent Electoral Commission, the land tenure system and the identification process.  I expect that, as agreed in Addis Ababa, an extraordinary session of the National Assembly will be convened in the coming days to adopt these legislative texts.

    I also urge the Ivorian parties to put an end to all human rights violations and to the climate of impunity prevailing throughout the country. In this connection, I was extremely concerned by the recent reports of serious violations of human rights in Korogho, as I was by those which occurred during the

    25/26 March events in Abidjan. I hope that the Ivorian authorities will implement the recommendations of the Commission which investigated these events. The National Human Rights Commission foreseen under the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement should also be established and commence its work without further delay.

    I also call on the Ivorian parties to cooperate fully with the International Commission of Inquiry which, in accordance with the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement, has been established to look into the human rights violations committed in Côte d’Ivoire since the beginning of the crisis on 19 September 2002. As you are aware, the Commission arrived in Côte d’Ivoire on 15 July and is expected to complete its work within the next two months. 

    You will need to work out a comprehensive timetable for implementing the programme of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration. Implementing that programme will do much to help reunify Côte d’Ivoire.  A timetable will also be needed for the restoration of State administration and public services throughout the country.

    I know that international organizations, such as the World Bank and the European Union, have already set aside considerable sums of money to finance the restoration of public services throughout the country, which would be made available once the DDR programme commences. ONUCI, that is the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire, will also assist in this endeavour, by ensuring adequate security in the transitional phase and by helping the Ivorian army and police in the formation of integrated security forces.

    The return to normality nationwide will set the stage for the holding of free and fair elections in October 2005, and enable you to make progress towards democratic governance.

    I appeal to all of you to address the difficult issues before you today openly and frankly. If we are to make real progress, candid discussion is crucial.

    The United Nations, ECOWAS, the African Union and the international community remain ready to support the efforts of the Ivorian parties to bring the crisis to an end so as to restore peace and prosperity to Côte d'Ivoire without delay. We shall continue to monitor closely the situation and to report regularly to the Security Council on the action taken to advance the peace process.  Where necessary, we shall point out the follow-up action that must be taken to resolve outstanding issues.  My Special Representative will report to me on the implementation of the commitments made at this meeting, so that I can keep the Security Council fully informed.

    I remind all Ivorian leaders of their individual responsibility in ensuring full and unconditional implementation of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement. And when I mean all, I mean all, not just President Gbagbo. All the other leaders have a responsibility to work to make this agreement workable. I urge you to ensure that this meeting yields the commitments and practical measures needed to move the peace process forward.

    Let me also add that we look to the leaders and the people of Côte d’Ivoire for their full cooperation with the United Nations, to allow us to provide maximum support for your efforts to restore peace and stability.

    In the final analysis, your people will be the judge of your actions. I trust that in your deliberations here today, that higher interest will be placed above all else.

    Thank you very much.

    * *** *