Côte d'Ivoire: Le pire est peut-être à venir

The next seven months are a time of great danger for Côte d'Ivoire. Under pressure of an increasingly suspect 15 October 2004 election deadline, its political class may lose control of the cyclical violence it has orchestrated during the on-again, off-again civil war that has divided the country since September 2002. With both UN and French (Licorne) peacekeeping mandates expiring on 4 April, the international community must act decisively to renegotiate key aspects of its involvement to prevent an explosion. The African Union (AU) and its mediator, South African President Thabo Mbeki, should work to organise in close cooperation with the UN the implementation of the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) program, voter registration and a new schedule for three polls -- presidential and legislative elections preceded by a referendum on a key constitutional article determining who is eligible for the presidency. It is imperative that a clear agenda be set now to allow the international community to achieve its redefined objectives in Côte d'Ivoire within the next eighteen months.