Ivorian envoy slams 'unfair' French attacks

24th July 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Ivory Coast's UN ambassador slammed "unfair and unjustified" remarks by French officials on his government.

United Nations – The Ivory Coast's UN ambassador on Thursday slammed "unfair and unjustified" remarks by French officials on his government and the election process in the west African country.

Addressing the UN Security Council during a debate about the United Nations Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI), Alcide Djedje noted that the campaign for the much-delayed presidential election in his country would start15  November.

"All these efforts by the Ivorian authorities should give rise to renewed optimism as to the effective holding of the first round of the presidential elections on 29 November," he noted.

"Yet, it is during this stage where the process is nearing completion that the peace process and the institutions of Cote d'Ivoire are being attacked by some," Djedje added, referring to recent "unfair and unjustified remarks by French personalities against the Ivorian authorities and the ongoing process."

Djedje did not elaborate but Ivorian press reports alleged that French President Nicolas Sarkozy, during New York talks with UN chief Ban Ki-moon last Friday, blamed his Ivorian counterpart Laurent Gbagbo for delays in the Ivorian electoral process.

"My delegation will not have dwelt on these remarks had it not been for the fact that they come from a power which holds a special status in the settlement of the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire," Djedje told the council as he urged France, Ivory Coast's former colonial ruler, to show "a greater sense of restraint and responsibility."

France's UN deputy ambassador Jean-Pierre Lacroix expressed "surprise" at Djedje's remarks.

"I don't understand the intent of what was said. In any case if this was interpreted as meaning that France is distancing itself from the objectives of the Security Council, I want to firmly reject such an interpretation," he retorted.

"French authorities are fully committed to the success" of the electoral process in Ivory Coast, he added.

But, he continued, the coming months are crucial and the Security Council must closely monitor events in the former French colony.

Respect of the electoral calendar was "above all the responsibility of the Ivorian parties," he said, while making it clear that another postponement of the polls should not be tolerated.

UNOCI, which includes 7,661 troops backed by 900 French troops, is tasked with enforcing security and assisting the voter registration process.

The West African nation has put off presidential elections several times since Gbagbo's mandate ran out in October 2005 after problems with voter registration.

Meanwhile, UNOCI chief Young-Jin Choi said that "unmistakable worrying signs for probable delays notwithstanding, solid and significant achievements have been made in the Ivorian electoral process."

He noted that more than 6.5 million voters had been registered, out of a total population of 15 million.

Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa grower, was sliced in half after a September 2002 coup attempt against Gbagbo carried out by rebels led by Guillaume Soro, who took control of the northern part of the country.

Peace accords signed in 2007 and then late in 2008 in Ouagadougou first saw Soro become prime minister, and then set a timetable for the presidential election, which lapsed several times.

AFP / Expatica

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