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Security Council authorizes extra UN troops for Ivorian run-off poll

The Security Council today authorized the sending of extra United Nations peacekeepers to Côte d'Ivoire ahead of the presidential run-off election scheduled for Sunday and urged everyone in the West African nation to ensure a peaceful poll.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the Council decided to authorize Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to temporarily redeploy a maximum of three infantry companies and an aviation unit from the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL) to the UN peacekeeping force in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) for a period of no more than four weeks.

This is in addition to the extra 500 troops that were already sent to the country to reinforce the 8,650-strong UNOCI and assist with security during the election period.

Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo is set to face former prime minister, Alassane Ouattara, in the 28 November poll, which follows the first round of elections held on 31 October.

The elections, originally scheduled for as far back as 2005, were repeatedly postponed. They are a major step in restoring stability in the country, which was split by civil war into a Government-held south and rebel Forces Nouvelles-controlled north in 2002.

In recent days UNOCI has deplored acts of violence in the main commercial city of Abidjan and appealed to the two candidates, to the political parties and to the population to abstain from statements and acts that could jeopardize the achievements of the electoral process.

The Council echoed that call today, stressing the need for the Ivorian stakeholders to preserve this “historic and critical” gain in the Ivorian peace process.

In a statement read out to the press by Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant of the United Kingdom, which holds the 15-member body’s rotating presidency, the Council voiced their concern at the recent incidents in Côte d’Ivoire.

“They further urged the two candidates and all political leaders to maintain a calm and peaceful atmosphere throughout the electoral process and to appeal to their supporters to refrain from any acts of violence, provocation and incitement to violence.”

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