09 November 2006

1633 to 1721

1633 to 1721

As of the end of October Côte d'Ivoire is supposed to have had a new president according to the UN Security Counsel’s Resolution 1633 which has been, until the end of last month, the ambiguously worded document which permitted the actual president to remain in place as the actual president even though Côte d'Ivoire has had a UN named Prime Minister since last year at this time. In the former UN Resolution, 1633, the powers of the acting president were “limited” and the powers of the Prime Minister were “beefed up”. Just what that meant and how it was to be applied was left ambiguous last year.

According to last year’s resolution we were supposed to be identified and disarmed so as to open the way for elections. There was a significant difference of opinion as to whether the disarming of the different fighting factions should happen before, during or after the identification process. On one side you had folks saying that if they disarmed then the president would not allow a fair and open identification process to go forward.

On the other side you had folks saying that if disarmament didn’t take place that the entire identification process would be faulty, having not been done before the proper state authorities, state appointed judges and the like. In the end some people were identified and some people were disarmed. Not enough of either happened however so as to allow us to have elections this last October.

That said and the UN Resolution 1633 re-visited has resulted in a new UN Resolution 1721. This new resolution is about the same as last years, again “limiting” the authority of the President and “beefing up” the powers of the Prime Minister. Apparently the language is still fairly ambiguous as seen by the different kinds of messages we have heard from both the President and the Prime Minister.

As with 1633 the new UN Resolution 1721 does not supersede the Ivorian Constitution. This has also been a hotly debated issue as it would seem to some that for the past several years the constitution has hindered significantly the peace process. Much to the surprise of certain observers, the United States supported the strong constitutional clause along with Russia and China. France and several others traditional allies of the United States on the Security counsel had hoped to see a change in this regard.

The President has of course been very positive in his accolade for the new 1721 Resolution, saying that he is going to take his responsibility seriously as indicated by the constitution, bring an end to the war and organize elections. Just how he intends to do that is what frightens many in the north of the country.

One needs to understand that some of those who have been the most belligerent in their refusal to disarm are pro‑government militias in the south as opposed to rebels in the north. These militias have been active in harassing and exacting tribute of all sorts from anyone who might seem opposed to the current regime. Of course it must also be said that with this kind of talk the rebels in the north are in no hurry to lay down their weapons.

The Prime Minister on the other hand, when he spoke last night, left us all thinking that if he does what he has said he will this next year there may be some difficulty between him and the President who continues to claim that as a dully elected president, although his term was over in October 2005. According to the President he will retain all of his authority as president as stipulated in the Ivorian Constitution. It would seem that we are somehow at an impasse.

That said we should note that some observers feel that this year is going to be much the same as last year. We will make little steps toward peace and elections. Due to the ambiguity in the language of the UN Resolution 1721 however, there will continue to be some very different interpretations of a text which, in trying to please everybody has really pleased nobody to the extent that everybody reads it simply the way he thinks it should be read which means that even though it pleases nobody it really pleases everybody. I have to take my hat off to the UN! They should call this art or something! I know I don’t understand it!

No comments: