Presidential election campaign begins peacefully in Cote d'Ivoire: UN official

08:36, October 20, 2010      

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Young-jin Choi, the head of the UN Mission in Cote d'Ivoire, said that the election campaign has kicked off peacefully as the West African country is bracing the presidential polls in less than two weeks, and the UN mission would begin to give a hand later this week, UN spokesman Farhan Haq told reporters on Tuesday.

Choi "says that the campaign period for the Oct. 31 presidential election has taken off peacefully," Haq said at the daily news briefing. "Choi said campaigning is evolving in accordance with democratic rules despite the passion inherent in this kind of event."

Choi made those remarks in Abidjan, capital of Cote d'Ivoire, after his meeting with the chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission, Haq said. "Choi added that the UN Mission would begin delivery of printed electoral materials to voting sites later this week."

"He also noted that 66,000 polling agents are being trained by the Ivorian authorities; the UN, meanwhile, is helping to build temporary shelters in 3,200 polling stations," Haq said.

Last Friday, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the start of a long-awaited electoral campaign in Cote d'Ivoire.

Cote d'Ivoire's presidential elections have been delayed since 2005 due to tension between the rebel-held north of the country and the south, which engaged in civil war beginning in 2002.

"The holding of open, free, fair and transparent elections in Cote d'Ivoire will represent a major milestone towards the peaceful resolution of the crisis," the statement from Ban's spokesman said last Friday. "The secretary-general calls on all parties and the Ivorian people to ensure that the country remains on track towards lasting peace and stability."

Ban "calls on the parties to conduct their electoral campaign in a peaceful manner in keeping with the spirit engendered by the signing of the Ouagadougou Political Agreement," said the statement.

The Ouagadougou agreement, signed in March 2007, aimed to encourage peace in the divided West African nation, and set out a route to free and fair elections. The statement on the electoral campaigns came as the Security Council passed a draft resolution Friday to renew sanctions on Cote d'Ivoire until April 30, 2011. The sanctions include an asset freeze, travel limits, an arms embargo, and sanctions on the trade of rough diamonds.

Source: Xinhua


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