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UN Urges Rapid Restoration of Order in Ivory Coast

UN special envoy Choi Young-Jin of South Korea during a press conference in Dakar (File)

UN special envoy Choi Young-Jin of South Korea during a press conference in Dakar (File)

The chief U.N. envoy for Ivory Coast said Monday there is a window of opportunity for the country's new government, but he also warned that there is a need for a rapid restoration of law and order throughout the country.

Choi Young-jin, the U.N. special representative for Ivory Coast, told the U.N. Security Council that by and large, the armed elements and supporters of former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo are not likely to mount a substantial challenge to law and order. Choi said the meltdown of Mr. Gbagbo’s forces bodes well for reconciliation in the country.

Mr. Gbagbo was defeated by his opponent Alassane Ouattara in Ivory Coast’s presidential election late last year but refused to give up office. A violent four-month power struggle ensued that displaced an estimated one million people. Mr. Gbagbo was captured at his residence by pro-Ouattara fighters in April and is now being held under house arrest.

U.N. representative Choi said authorities in Ivory Coast are doing their best to expedite the restoration of law and order throughout the country. He added that U.N. peacekeepers have taken measures to deal with what he termed “a certain degree of security deficit” in the country's west. The measures include the establishment of eight new military camps for the U.N. peacekeepers, four of them in the border area with Liberia.

“We feel confident, as President Ouattara and his team, who have shown remarkable patience and sang froid [calmness] during the crisis, are working day and night to successfully meet the post-crisis challenges for the benefit of the Ivorian people,” said Choi.

Also addressing the Security Council, Ivory Coast’s representative Youssoufou Bamba said real progress has been achieved in the country’s security situation. But, he said, there continue to be serious concerns about the situation in western Ivory Coast, particularly along the border with Liberia, where forces loyal to Gbagbo are active.

Bamba, speaking through a translator, said the government recognizes it cannot ensure security in Ivory Coast without United Nations help.

“This is indispensable support and assistance as we implement the goals of the government in order to put the country on the path of progress for the next six months,” said Bamba, through a transaltor.

The Ivorian representative denied reports that detained members of the Gbagbo government are being mistreated.