The U.N.'s top diplomat in Ivory Coast said he is not encouraged at recent election delays that look set to postpone the West African country's presidential election for an eighth time. The election had most recently been planned for late April or early May.
V.J. Choi told the U.N. Security Council Wednesday that the political impasse that began in January following the production of the second electoral list has resulted in a serious weakening of electoral momentum.
"It is quite regrettable to see the elections once again delayed. Our disappointment is all the more acute as elections which have been prepared for so long appeared within our grasp at the time of the establishment of the provisional electoral list last November, which was highly credible and well-balanced," he said.
President Laurent Gbagbo dismissed the electoral commission in February saying it illegally registered as many as 400,000 people. A new electoral commission was re-established later that month, with former foreign minister Youssouf Bakayoko as its head.
The new commission has the difficult task of drawing up a final voter list. Six million people have registered for the vote, but nearly one million names are being challenged, most on the grounds of nationality.
After briefing the council, U.N. envoy Choi told reporters that some names on the list would be thrown out and others would be added, once eligibility factors, such as nationality, were verified during the appeals process. That process has not even started yet. But without the final list there can be no election.
The election is being organized by the Ivorians with technical support from the U.N. mission there.
Ivorian Ambassador Ilahiri Djédjé told reporters that he does not think the election could be held before July at the earliest.
For its part, the Security Council issued a statement expressing its concern at the continuing delays and urging stakeholders to give their full support to the Independent Electoral Commission so that it can complete the final voters list in the coming weeks and set a date for the vote.