Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cote d'Ivoire's voter rolls are growing

Mobile court hearings in Cote d'Ivoire, used as part of the process of identifying the country's voters among untold undocumented immigrants ahead of planned national elections next year, have been generally positive since they resumed in September, IRIN reports.

Ahmedou El Becaye Seck, Chief of the Electoral Assistance Division of the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), told reporters at a press conference in Abidjan that nearly 1,300 hearings had been held so far and the number of substitute birth certificates granted had far exceeded the number in previous operations.

Another 30 new teams have been added to help with the process, while the National Committee for the Supervision of Identification, known by its French acronym CNSI, will also be reinforced.

Identification of voters - including millions of undocumented Ivorians and foreign-born residents - has been a key issue in the West African country that became divided in 2002 between the Government-controlled south and the rebel Forces Nouvelles-held north. Free and fair presidential elections are due next year, as part of a peace accord between the Government and the rebels that was signed earlier this year in Ouagadougou, capital of neighbouring Burkina Faso.

At one point, nearly one-quarter of the population of former economic powerhouse Cote d'Ivoire was believed to be foreign born.