10 July 2009Côte d’Ivoire’s political parties have the responsibility for ensuring that much-delayed presidential elections, now scheduled to take place on 29 November, are held on time and are free, fair and transparent, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says, urging them to act appropriately. In his latest report on the work of the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI), Mr. Ban writes that he has been encouraged by the progress so far to identify and register more than 6.4 million eligible voters, the ongoing pre-electoral campaigning activities, and the parties’ reaffirmation that all signatories of a 2003 peace accord are eligible to stand as candidates in the upcoming polls.“It is important that the Ivorian parties sustain the progress achieved so far and complete, in a timely manner, the remaining stages of the peace process,” the report states. “The parties should also preserve the prevailing positive political climate.”Mr. Ban says he looks forward to the immediate publication of what he called a “consensual and realistic timeline” for completing the remaining tasks ahead of the elections, including the publication of provisional and final lists of voters.He also emphasizes the need for more progress towards reunification – in 2002 Côte d’Ivoire became divided between the Government-controlled south and the rebel Forces Nouvelles-held north – before the elections, which were previously supposed to be conducted in 2005 and 2008.“It is the political will and calculations of the main Ivorian political players that will ultimately determine whether or not the election date will be respected… Their successful conduct will place Côte d’Ivoire on the path to reclaim its place as a pillar of stability, democracy and development in the subregion.”The Secretary-General also states that if the elections can be staged successfully, they will constitute a benchmark that would provide a basis for devising an exit strategy for UNOCI, which was set up in 2004 to replace an earlier UN political mission.In the interim, he recommends that UNOCI’s mandate be extended through the end of January 2010.
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