July 1st, 2007 07:20 EST
Rocket attack against Ivorian leader
The Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire joined forces to denounce today’s deadly rocket attack on a plane carrying the country’s Prime Minister Guillaume Soro.
Mr. Soro survived but at least three people were killed and several others injured in the attack, which occurred at the airport in Bouake, situated in the north of the divided West African country.
In a statement read out by Ambassador Johan Verbeke of Belgium, which holds the rotating presidency this month, the Security Council strongly condemned the attack “and any attempt to destabilize the peace process by force.”
The presidential statement said Council members backed March’s Ouagadougou agreement, which sets out a series of measures to deal with the political divide in Côte d’Ivoire. The country has been split between the Government-controlled south and the rebel Forces Nouvelles-held north since 2002.
The 15-member Council “stresses that it is critical that all parties continue to work within the framework of the Ouagadougou political agreement, which is the way to settle the crisis Côte d’Ivoire.”
The accord calls, among other steps, for: creating a new transitional government; organizing free and fair presidential elections; merging the Forces Nouvelles and the national defence and security forces through the establishment of an integrated command centre; dismantling the militias, disarming ex-combatants and enrolling them in civil services programmes; and replacing the so-called zone of confidence separating north and south with a green line to be monitored by the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).
Since then President Laurent Gbagbo and Mr. Soro reached a separate pact designating Mr. Soro as the new Prime Minister, stipulating he will remain in office until presidential elections are held, and then barring him from running in that election.
In a statement released by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban voiced shock at the rocket attack and urged all Ivorian parties to work closely together, with the help of the UN, to implement the Ouagadougou pact, which he described as “a unique opportunity for a peaceful solution to the protracted Ivorian crisis.”
UNOCI issued its own statement deploring the loss of lives and endorsing the importance of the current peace process. It called on Ivorian authorities to take the measures necessary to identify who conducted the attack and to bring them to justice.