(translation of statement made in French)
Before turning to Côte d’Ivoire, I would like to share with the Security Council France’s outrage following the events in Conakry, Guinea, where members of the military fired on a peaceful crowd, killing and wounding many dozens of people. The situation in that country is especially worrisome.
With regard to the situation in Côte d’Ivoire, I would first like to thank you, Madam President, for having organized this ministerial-level meeting. I should also like to thank the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Burkina Faso for his statement and his decisive efforts alongside President Compaore to facilitate the peace process in that country. The period ahead will be decisive for the proper holding of presidential elections — the date of which, 29 November 2009, was set by Ivorians themselves.
Both the people of Côte d’Ivoire and the entire international community look forward to those elections, as underscored in resolution 1880 (2009), which was adopted on 30 July. The statement just read out by the President, along with today’s meeting itself, provide us an opportunity to recall the importance that all of us attach to the holding of the elections in the most democratic and secure manner possible. This is also an opportunity to assure Côte d’Ivoire of the attention, support and mobilization of the entire international community, and of France in particular, to that end.
Progress has been made that gives rise to optimism with regard to the desire of the parties in Côte d’Ivoire to close the chapter on the crisis by preparing for the holding of elections. I see at least three reasons for that hope. First, registration operations were concluded on 30 June, while the identification process is under way.
Secondly, the period for the submission of candidacies to the Independent Electoral Commission began on 26 August. Many candidacies have already been submitted. Following my visit on the ground, I should like to confirm that there is indeed an atmosphere of election campaigning in the country.
Lastly, statements by various political and technical protagonists setting out their determination and commitment to the elections should be commended. I note that President Gbagbo indicated to the General Assembly on 25 September that the process has entered an irreversible phase.
The commitments of the various Ivorian actors must now lead to new, decisive progress in the electoral process on the ground within the timeline identified. That will involve, first and foremost, the publication of the provisional electoral list, which was originally scheduled for 29 August but has already been postponed twice, first until mid-September and then to early October. The decrees of 25 August provide for the possible publication of both the provisional and the final electoral lists by 31 October and 15 November, respectively.
The delay in the publication of the provisional list would not be a problem in itself if the quality of the list should enable us to save time at later stages. It is worrisome, however, because it constitutes an impediment to the electoral timeline and a risk factor for the entire process. The electoral process must not be slowed down, but move forward resolutely in full respect for procedure. I therefore invite all technical and political actors to spare no effort in publishing a credible, high-quality electoral list as soon as possible and, obviously, without shortcuts that might impute the fairness of the elections. An electoral list accepted by all is essential to the success of the elections.
Moreover, providing security for the elections is critical to the successful conduct of a free, transparent and democratic ballot. Although progress has been made recently and the first deployment of mixed units under integrated command has begun, it is important that the Ivorian parties find concrete solutions and make further progress on this issue by 29 November. The presidential elections are indeed the first priority, although we must not lost sight of the main long-term objectives, which are the effective restoration of State authority and the redeployment of the administration throughout the territory of Côte d’Ivoire.
Ivorians do not stand alone in their efforts. They can rely on the support of the international community — including, of course, of France — the Secretariat and, in Abidjan, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Côte d’Ivoire, Mr. Choi, to whom we reiterate our gratitude and support. His role in certifying the electoral process is critical to guaranteeing the fairness of the elections. I recall that the Security Council has provided for Mr. Choi’s explicit certification of the electoral list. The United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire, under his leadership, is providing strengthened security and logistical assistance to the Ivorian authorities as the elections approach.
France also reiterates its support for the facilitator, President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso, whose role is essential to encouraging the Ivorian parties to transcend existing obstacles. President Compaore’s recent visit to Côte d’Ivoire also reaffirmed the links of friendship between the two countries, which we welcome, and the broad convergence of views regarding the need to advance in the preparations for the elections. France, as always, remains steadfast at Côte d’Ivoire’s side during this key period for the future of the country. The earliest possible convening of incontestable elections is an essential condition for overcoming the crisis and restoring lasting peace and stability in the country and throughout the subregion.
The logistical and technical obstacles are numerous. That is no surprise, given the many years of crisis. However, those obstacles will be overcome only through the political resolve of the Ivorian parties themselves. The United Nations is firmly committed to Côte d’Ivoire, but the Security Council cannot indefinitely support the process to end the crisis unless elections are held and the more than 8,000 military and civilian staff are maintained. The presidential election of 2009 will thus be a genuine test of credibility in the eyes of the Security Council and of the international community as a whole. I stress in that regard that Côte d’Ivoire has the capacity to meet these challenges and to turn a very painful page in its history.