Accessibility links

Identification Process, Talks Develop in Divided Ivory Coast


Efforts to determine who can get nationality papers in divided Ivory Coast are slowly resuming, while talks are being prepared between the president and northern rebels. VOA's Nico Colombant reports from our regional bureau in Dakar the United Nations wants the process completed before holding national elections.

There is little commotion in Adjame, one of two test areas to resume stalled efforts to provide Ivorians with identity papers.

Kouame Affoue, a 44-year-old hairdresser, is trying to get papers for herself. She says her inscription will be validated.

Under new terms set by the president's party, the identification process now has several steps, though, and applicants do not automatically get nationality papers.

But Affoue is quite happy and says she will come back later in the day to get the process started for her two children as well. She says they should not have to suffer as she did, living so much of her life without a nationality.

Another happy participant is Ndiaye Mocktar.

He is trying to get papers for his two adult daughters. He says he left them, years ago, seeking money in diamond mining areas in what is now the rebel-held north.

He says he felt ashamed that his own two daughters had no papers, even though he is Ivorian.

But a local official complains about the process.

He says too many steps are involved, and it is too complicated, which is why many people are staying away.

Here in Adjame, only a handful of people have showed up since operations resumed last week. A majority of these are rejected because they were not born in Adjame and need to go to their place of birth, which is sometimes impossible because they would have to travel through barricades back to the rebel-held north.

Rebels say millions of northerners, long treated as second class citizens in Ivory Coast because many were sons and daughters of immigrants, should get nationality and voting papers before they disarm. They say they also want assurances a free and fair election can be held.

President Laurent Gbagbo and rebel leader Guillaume Soro have both agreed to start talks under the mediation of Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, possibly starting next month.

Repeated peace deals for Ivory Coast have sputtered since the insurgency began in late 2002. The United Nations has sent peacekeepers, and passed resolutions which have been largely ignored, leading to the extension of Mr. Gbagbo's presidential mandate.

XS
SM
MD
LG