The Security Council today expanded the mandate of the United Nations Operation in CÃ´te d`Ivoire (UNOCI), and the French forces supporting it, in an effort to strengthen its capacity to consolidate stability in the West African country, and extended the term of the mission until the end of this year.
The Council unanimously adopted a resolution giving UNOCI and the French forces the mandate to monitor armed groups in CÃ´te d`Ivoire, protect civilians, monitor the arms embargo, promote the peace process, protect human rights, particularly those of children and women, and support humanitarian assistance.
The mission was also mandated to help in the organization of free and fair elections " which have been repeatedly delayed " and contribute towards the process of providing identification to the population.
UNOCI was also tasked to continue contributing to the implementation of the peace process by supporting the disarmament, demobilization, storage of weapons and the reintegration of former combatants of the two parties, as well as supporting the integrated command centre in the disarmament effort.
The mission will also support the redeployment of the Ivorian state administration and justice throughout the country, and help reform of the security sector. UNOCI`s other tasks include supporting the facilitator of the CÃ´te d`Ivoire peace process and his representative and the protection of UN personnel, installations and equipment in the country.
The Council authorizes UNOCI to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate, within its capabilities and its areas of deployment " according to the resolution, which also called on all parties to fully cooperate with the mission and French forces that support it.
It decided that UNOCI will comprise a maximum of 7,392 authorized military personnel, maintaining the current combined strength of 8,650 personnel, including 7,200 troops and staff officers and a maximum of just over 1,250 police and customs officers.
The Council expressed its intention to consider raising, for a limited time, prior and after the elections, the levels of authorized military and police personnel up to a total of not more than 500. It also welcomed the Secretary-General`s intention to reconfigure UNOCI to increase its presence in the identified high-risk areas and to strengthen the capabilities of its force reserve.
UNOCI was established in 2004 by the Council to facilitate the peace process in the West African nation, which became split by civil war in 2002 into a rebel-held north and Government-controlled south.
The mission has been providing logistical and technical assistance for the preparations for the country`s presidential elections, which were supposed to have been held as far back as 2005, but have been repeatedly postponed, most recently from March.
While preparations for the polls were on track up until late last year, they were interrupted in January. Political tensions began to mount after voter registration was suspended due to violence and President Laurent Gbagbo dissolved the Government and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in February.
A new Government and Electoral Commission have since been established, but the electoral process remains stalled as differences persist on how to tackle the issue of fraud and resume the interrupted appeals process on the provisional voters list.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had in his latest report on UNOCI recommended an adjustment of the mission`s mandate to allow it to focus on helping the parties to implement the remaining priority tasks in the peace process, including those related to elections, disarmament and all aspects of the reunification of the country.