U.N. bracing for local Ivorian elections

April 5, 2013 at 10:58 AM

UNITED NATIONS, April 5 (UPI) -- Security is a primary concern for Ivorians preparing for local elections this month, the head of the peacekeeping mission said.

U.N. Special Envoy for Ivory Coast Bert Koenders told U.N. Radio that his mission was tasked with ensuring local elections, scheduled for April 21, are peaceful.

"If you have elections then tensions will rise," he said. "Our mandate is to assist Ivorian actors to ensure that in all those different constitutes there are peaceful elections and also calling on politicians to remain calm and really have open and free and transparent elections."

Elections in 2010 were meant to unite a country divided by civil war. Former President Laurent Gbagbo is on trial at the International Criminal Court for alleged war crimes committed in the post-election violence.

Human Rights Watch this week expressed concern that President Alassane Outtara wasn't upholding pledges for impartial justice. Both sides are accused of committing atrocities during the violence that followed the 2010 election.

Koenders said the U.N. mission in Ivory Coast was committed to providing logistical support to the country's independent electoral commission.

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