Ivorians to lead rebuilding efforts with int'l support: UN envoy

09:46, April 14, 2011      

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Choi Young-jin, special representative of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Cote d' Ivoire, told the UN Security Council on Wednesday that the future of the West African country should be directed largely by the Ivorian people themselves, with support when necessary from the international community.

His statements came as he briefed the 15-nation Council via teleconference from Cote d'Ivoire's economic capital of Abidjan during a session on the embattled country that, until Monday's surrender by the forces of Laurent Gbagbo, had two different claimants to its presidency.

A post-electoral crisis began when Gbagbo claimed to be the winner of a November 2010 run-off presidential election, though his rival Alassane Ouattara was the internationally certified victor, and months of incidents of protest and violence followed.

"I remain hopeful," Choi said. "The Ivorian people organized one of the most impressive elections; they succeeded largely by themselves in resolving the post-electoral crisis which allowed for the will of the people to prevail; and now they will march forward towards national reconciliation and reconstruction with assistance of the international community."

One of the major challenges that Cote d'Ivoire is currently facing is to recover from recent strife and violence, Choi said.

"The first challenge is the restoration of peace and law and order throughout the country, particularly in Abidjan," he said.

The UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI), Choi told the Council, "will be doing everything it can do" to provide assistance in this matter.

"In the meantime, UNOCI is currently focusing on the efforts to re-establish a secure environment and prevent a security vacuum, collecting weapons and disarming surrendering pro-Gbagbo forces, securing vital lifelines and strategic installations such as the seaport, airport, bridges, the presidential palace and residence, protecting civilians, including Mr. Gbagbo's entourage against reprisals, continuing documentation of committed human rights violations, and facilitating the delivery of humanitarian assistance," he said.

Choi pointed out the importance of achieving national reconciliation as another important element of Cote d'Ivoire's future.

"On this score, President Ouattara has been making a very clear stance in favor of reconciliation as opposed to retribution," Choi said.

Allegations of mass killings of civilians and other human rights abuses have also plagued Cote d'Ivoire. A team from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has so far confirmed the deaths of 536 people in the west of the country and is continuing to investigate allegations.

Choi said he believes that the "prevention of any further human rights abuses and violations and the delivery of humanitarian assistance" will remain an important challenge.

He also said that the overall development of Cote d'Ivoire is an important challenge for its future.

"The fourth and perhaps most formidable challenge awaiting the Ivorian people appears to be national reconstruction, particularly with regard to the promotion of education, creation of youth employment, addressing land ownership problems, poverty eradication, and economic development," he said.

Source: Xinhua
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