20 November - The United Nations peacekeeping force in Côte d'Ivoire today called for peaceful campaigning in the run up to the second round of the presidential election in the West African country next week and deplored yesterday's acts of violence in the main commercial city of Abidjan.
“The United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire [UNOCI] launches an urgent appeal to the two candidates, to the political parties and to the population to abstain from statements and acts that contain the seeds of violence and are liable to jeopardize the remarkable achievements of the electoral process,” the UN mission said in a press release.
Campaigning for the 28 November run-off poll in which incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo is pitted against former prime minister, Alassane Ouattara, kicked off officially today. The first round of the elections was held on 31 October.
“UNOCI reiterates its readiness to provide all the support necessary for the success of the electoral process according to its resources and its mandate,” it said, adding that the mission “remains confident that the maturity of the Ivorian people will ensure that democracy and peace prevail.”
The elections, originally scheduled for as far back as 2005, were repeatedly postponed. They are a major step in restoring stability in the country, which was split by civil war into a Government-held south and rebel Forces Nouvelles-controlled north in 2002.
An additional 500 troops are in the country to reinforce the 8,650-strong UN force and assist with security throughout the election period.