Cote d'lvoire crisis parties meet facilitator for wayout

10:20, February 13, 2010      

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Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, the facilitator in Cote d'Ivoire crisis, on Thursday met with the main political actors in the capital Ouagadougou to help mediate a wayout from the voter list dispute, which has threatened the electoral calendar.

Only weeks ahead of the presidential elections set for late February and early March, the presidential camp declared the discovery of fraud in voter registration, saying some names had been wrongly put on the list in favor of the ex-rebel New Forces (FN).

The camp held the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) responsible for the finding, demanding the resignation of its chief.

On Thursday, officials of the opposition Assembly of Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP) met with Compaore to inform him of "our side of the story, our understanding of the situation and we have informed him of the major obstacles that have bedevilled the electoral process."

The statement was made by Alphonse Djedje Mady, the head of the opposition delegation, who represented the RHDP and the Democratic Party of Cote d'lvoire (PDCI).

Mady reiterated the rejection of the demand by the presidential camp. "We are an opposition which until now does not understand the crime committed by Mambe and which still insists that he should not resign," he said.

The president of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI), Robert Beugre Mambe, has denied any wrongdoing although the commission admitted certain technical problems. He vows not to step down under the pressure from supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo.

"This is because Mambe and CEI have not committed any justifiable fault that can be proven. And because of this, we shall not fall for the schemes which are meant to impede the process which is in progress," Mady pointed out.

Compaore "had not proposed anything as of now" but had asked them to "seat and listen," he added.

The president of the ruling Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), Pascal Affi N'Guessan, who headed the presidential camp's delegation, described the meeting as an occasion to familiarize the facilitator with their "opinion."

"We have affirmed to the facilitator that Mambe does not enjoy any confidence from the presidential camp and therefore he should be replaced so that the process can go ahead on stable background and in the interest of all actors and that after the removal of Mambe, we must balance CEI," N'Guessan declared.

According to the FPI president, Mambe is "a threat to peace and to free and fair elections."

"Therefore we should change the CEI president, give CEI a neutral person who will serve both political sides and improve the representation of the different internal powers within CEI," he insisted.

The CEI president is accused of fraudulently registering 429, 000 people on the electoral list and is threatened to be arrested by the justice system. He was also in Ouagadougou to meet with Compaore.

"I will not resign. I was elected. A job was entrusted to me and I will do it in respect of all the laid down mechanisms," he told to reporters.

"We have already covered a considerable distance, we have achieved close to 95 percent of the journey. The work that was given to me must be achieved in desirable ways and in a manner in which all those who are concerned will appreciate the outcome of the quality of the work," he said.

The special representative of the facilitator in Cote d'lvoire, Boureima Badini, was convinced on his part that the "Faso president will make appropriate proposals which will lead to a peaceful resolution of the problem."

"After the consultations, he will be in a better position to make an appropriate ruling and he will take necessary measures to ensure that this is resolved in the quickest possible was," he pledged.

Having stalled after the surfacing of the controversy over the voter list, the electoral process is facing a real danger of derailment amid protests in several towns, where cases of violence have been reported.

Most of the protesters were reportedly supporters of the FN, who took to the streets against the decisions by courts to remove some people from the electoral list. Casualties, vandalism and burning of government buildings hit the headlines of the local newspapers, which said the affected towns include Divo in the central west, Man in the west, Katiola in the north and Vavoua in the central part.

Facing the surge of violent protests, the government recently decided to suspend "until further notice" the judicial process over the voter list dispute.

The West African country has yet to validate more than a million people in voter registration with 5.3 million people already put on the voter list, an ever greatest stride towards a planned vote in recent years.

Cote d'Ivoire has seen repeated postponements of the election since 2005, when Gbagbo's tenure expired. The country last put off the planned polls in November 2009. In anticipation of possible twists and turns in the process, the UN peacekeeping mission has expressed hope that the elections will take place in the first half of the year.

The country remains divided with the government controlling the south and the FN holding the north, despite a series of Compaore- brokered the peace accords. The crisis was triggered by an attempted coup against Gbagbo in 2002 and an ensuing civil war.

Source: Xinhua
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