500 extra UN troops for I Coast polls

2010-09-29 08:31

New York - Up to 500 extra international troops will be sent to Ivory Coast for the troubled African nation's first post-conflict election, the UN Security Council announced on Tuesday.

The council welcomed the agreement on a voter list of 5.7 million people for the October 31 poll but also warned all the parties in the West African nation "to ensure calm" before and after the election.

A 2002 attempt to bring down the government of President Laurent Gbagbo brought civil war to the country, with rebels taking control of the north and the army the south.

Tensions have sporadically erupted since but the election is a key stage in attempts to unite the country and some rebels in the north are already laying down their arms and joining government forces.

UN Security Council president Ertugrul Apakan said that up to 500 extra uniformed personnel would be sent to Ivory Coast "for a limited period of no more than six months in order to reinforce the capacity of ONUCI to contribute to the security arrangements before during and after the elections".

The council "stressed the need for the parties to ensure calm, both during and after the vote", said a statement read by Apakan after a meeting on Ivory Coast.

The council said that the agreement of the electoral list last week was "significant progress" by the Ivory Coast parties, but stressed that the council would "closely monitor" events leading up to the vote.

UN envoy Choi Young-Jin said that about 3 500 of the 10 250 planned polling stations were in the open air so UN forces would transport tents and covers to ensure voter confidentiality and guard against bad weather.

"I am confident that the October 31 first round will take place peacefully," Choi told reporters.

Any second round of the vote would be on November 28, Choi said.