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UN Diplomat Expresses Doubt About Ivory Coast Elections

A U.N. representative has opened the possibility that elections in Ivory Coast, scheduled for October 30, could be delayed because conditions for holding a free and fair ballot do not exist. his remarks follow a statement by the New Forces rebels who control the North of the country, that they will not accept the elections.

The U.N. High Representative for Elections in Ivory Coast, , has said the October 30 date of Ivory Coast's elections is of less importance than making sure the conditions exist for a free, fair and secure ballot.

Speaking on Radio France Internationale, Mr. Monteiro said Sunday even though he is optimistic about the elections, there are serious political problems to be solved. He said there are security problems and delays in the disarmament of former fighters and urged the parties to the country's peace agreements to speed up the implementation process.

Mr. Monteiro is in New York, to attend a special U.N. Security Council meeting on Ivory Coast scheduled for Wednesday.

The New Forces rebels, who control northern Ivory Coast said last week they will not accept the elections because the condition to hold a free and fair ballot do not exist. They demanded that President Laurent Gbagbo step down. A major opposition RDR party has said it agrees with the rebels that conditions for free and secure elections do not exist in Ivory Coast.

The elections are considered an important milestone in Ivory Coast's transition from civil war, which has split the country in two.

The Minister of Reconciliation and a prominent member of the ruling FPI party, Sebastian Dano Djedje, insists it is possible to hold elections on October 30. He says if the elections are postponed, President Gbagbo will stay in office until his successor has been elected.

Mr. Djedje says that all conditions for holding elections are fulfilled, except for disarmament. He says everyone should support the October elections if there are candidates willing to run, and people willing to vote.

Ivory Coast, once the bastion of stability in western Africa, descended into civil war three-years ago, and has been divided since.