(AFP) – Aug 16, 2008
ABIDJAN (AFP) — The United Nations' peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast said Saturday its will finance "1,000 microprojects" to rehabilitate the country's ex-fighters.
The ONUCI programme aims to create "a stable security environment" ahead of the country's presidential election on November 30, which is to be the culmination of the Ivory Coast peace process.
The programme was officially launched Friday by the UN special representative to Ivory Coast, Choi Young-jin, in the ex-rebel New Forces (FN) stronghold of Bouake.
"It (the project) aims to create a stable security environment for free and transparent elections by re-introducing ex-fighters socially and economically back into their old communities," an ONUCI statement said.
The projects will involve sectors such as agriculture, farming, fishing, construction and restoration.
A team linked to the ONUCI and the National Reinsertion and Community Rehabilitation Programme (PNRRC) will then continue the programme after it has been rolled out across the country, the statement said.
On August 5, the PNRRC chairman, Daniel Ouattara, estimated that the programme, which will be partly financed by the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme, will cost 44.4 billion CFA francs (67.7 million euros).
"The PNRRC is no longer struggling financially," trumpeted Ouattara, while adding that 32,300 ex-FN rebel fighters are involved in the programme, which is a key part of the country's peace-process.
On May 2, the former FN rebel group relaunched a programme to disarm 36,000 of its troops.
It marked the first stage in the disarmament process that is part of the March 2007 peace deal -- partly brokered by Burkina Faso -- between the FN rebels and Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo.
Under the Ouagadougou peace accord, 10,000 rebel soldiers will be integrated into the regular army and the remaining 26,000 will be demobilised before the November election.
Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa producer, plummeted into crisis in 2002 when a failed coup by FN rebels sliced the country in half.
A new government was installed earlier this year with Gbagbo sharing power with former FN rebel chief Guillaume Soro serving as prime minister.
November's presidential election, initially announced for October 2005 when Gbagbo's term was to end, has been pushed back several times.
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