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Outgoing Head of UN Mission in Ivory Coast Sounds Pessimistic


The outgoing head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast is making dire predictions about the future of the divided west-African country. VOA's Nico Colombant reports from Dakar.

U.N. mission leader Pierre Schori, whose term ends this month, says many indicators are not favorable for Ivorians.

"First, the UNDP, humanitarian development index, Cote d'Ivoire, has fallen to the 163rd place out of 177 countries, which is a scandal considering the country's national resources," he said. "Also, we know now that the poverty line, they have almost 45 percent below the poverty line in Cote d'Ivoire and that was just about 30 percent before the crisis."

Schori says without re-unification of the rebel-held north and government-run south, the situation will continue to worsen.

"It is an evolving humanitarian and economic social drama, which if it will continue will not only make the Ivorians more miserable, but also it will have daunting repercussions in the neighboring countries," he added.

He says trust needs to be rebuilt between the warring parties to implement successive failed peace deals. A delegation of rebels and presidential advisors is meeting in Burkina Faso to set up a possible direct dialogue between President Laurent Gbagbo and rebel leader Guillaume Soro.

When asked about news reports that he had lost the trust of Mr. Gbagbo during his two years in Ivory Coast, the outgoing U.N. head had this to say.

"Well, trust you cannot measure until you see it in action," said Schori. "People say things publicly and sometimes they act differently."

He was also asked whether he would have any advice for his yet-to-be publicly named successor.

"Not really, because I have written a so-called handover report, which contains the advice I can have. It is basically a statement of fact and what the problems are, what the obstacles are, and how to move forward," he said.

This includes disarming rebels and militias, giving papers to many undocumented northerners, and organizing twice-delayed elections.

Meanwhile, a French diplomat working for the European Union has been found shot to death in his home in downtown Abidjan. Other diplomats said it appeared his own gun had been used and that there was no forced intrusion into the home, but did not believe it was suicide.

Guards at the home said they had not heard or seen anything.

Since the start of the rebellion in Ivory Coast in late 2002, there have been several unexplained killings of prominent foreigners and suspected rebel sympathizers in the government-run south.