Four months ago, the former South African president and African union special envoy to Cote d'Ivoire, Thabo Mbeki, wrote an article attacking the UN's role in the conflict in Cote d'Ivoire (see NA June). Now, the UN has officially responded to Mbeki's article through the secretary general's chief of staff Vijay Nambiar, a veteran Indian diplomat (pictured, inset). Here, he insists that "by sticking to internationally recognised principles, the UN was able to restore the rule of law in the embattled West African state".
PRESIDENT THABO MBEKI HAS presented an inaccurate account of recent events in Cote d'Ivoire, and his defence of former President Laurent Gbagbo's attempt to thwart the will of the Ivorian people is surprising.
When Mr Gbagbo's mandate expired in 2005, Ivorians, African leaders, and the international community invested five years in finding a political solution. Through the Pretoria Agreement, signed in 2005 under President Mbeki's auspices, and the Ouagadougou Political Agreement (2007), the Ivorian parties assumed full ownership of the peace process. It was they who dictated the pace, timelines, and solutions to any obstacles.
Cote d'Ivoire's zom president[ial] election had been postponed several times owing to inadequate progress toward disarmament and reunification. Last August, however, Mr Gbagbo, acting without any external pressure, signed a decree setting 31 October, 2010, as the date for the first round of the vote. This step was endorsed by all relevant actors, who recognised that any further delay could itself have caused violence.
The first round was a milestone. Mr Gbagbo, who emerged as the leading candidate, expressed his appreciation to the special representative of the UN secretary general for his role in certifying the election results. The second round was held on 28 November, and the UN Special Representative Choi Young-jin followed the same agreed-upon certification procedure he had used for the first round. His analysis agreed with the Independent Electoral Commission, which declared Alassane Ouattara the winner.
UN special representative
The special representative also determined that the results proclaimed by the Constitutional Council, which gave "victory" to Mr Gbagbo were not based on facts, and that the Council had arbitrarily nullified results from the north, thereby disenfranchising a large portion of the population.
The special representative also indicated that, even if Mr...