The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution Friday that endorses appointing a prime minister to shepherd Ivory Coast toward elections no later than Oct. 30, 2006. The resolution, passed unanimously, gives international backing to African efforts to keep Ivory Coast from sliding into a constitutional crisis in the weeks since elections set for the end of this month were called off.
A continued standoff between the government and rebels who control the country's north made the vote impossible. The rebels had agreed the elections shouldn't happen, but vehemently reject President Laurent Gbagbo's claim that the constitution allows him to remain in power after Oct. 30 if war or natural disaster prevents polling.
The resolution backs an assessment by the African Union and the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS, that the vote can't take place now. Despite the rebels' opposition, it supports a proposal that Gbagbo stay in power for no more than a year to oversee a transitional government that would help prepare for the vote.
Ivory Coast plunged into civil war after a failed September 2002 coup. The Security Council has passed at least 11 resolutions since to put the country back on track. According to the resolution, the prime minister would be appointed by the end of this month. The prime minister would have authority over a cabinet of other ministers, suggesting the move is aimed at pulling some power away from Gbagbo.
The African Union has urged the council to increase the number of U.N. peacekeepers in Ivory Coast. There are currently about 6,000 U.N. peacekeepers and 4,000 French troops separating the rebels and Ivory Coast loyalist forces.
The resolution takes note of a similar assessment that the African Union's Peace and Security Council made in an Oct. 6 meeting. It raised the possibility that troops could be diverted from another peacekeeping mission in the region, the AP reported.