UN ends its peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast Friday June 30,2017
The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast was ending Friday June 30,2017, 13 years after it intervened to implement a peace agreement as the West African economic powerhouse was split in two by civil war.
While many praise the mission's success in stabilizing the country after years of conflict and post-electoral violence, others point to a recent series of army mutinies as a sign that peace remains tentative.
"The departure of UNOCI shows the remarkable progress that has been accomplished in Ivory Coast on the path to peace, lasting stability and economic prosperity," said Aichatou Mindaoudou, the U.N.secretary-general's special representative for the country.
U.N. peacekeepers first worked to maintain a cease-fire between the rebel-controlled north and the government-controlled south after an attempted coup in 2002 led to civil war. A peace deal in 2007 ultimately brought key rebel leaders into the administration, but deep divisions remained.
The country again came close to civil war in 2011 when then-leader Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat after losing the election and some 3,000 people were killed in the violence that followed. Current President Alassane Ouattara was later installed with the help of his former rebel allies and the international community.
Some 6,900 uniformed personnel were authorized under the original U.N. resolution authorizing the peacekeeping mission, but that number had fallen to roughly 2,600 at the end of last year.
As of Friday, the mission that most recently cost $153 million a year will be over. The U.N. Security Council in April 2016 voted unanimously to end the mission, and the council on Friday commended its "remarkable achievements."
For many Ivorians, the departure of the peacekeepers is a positive sign even as worries flare about the recent military tensions. Many recall it was only six years ago that post-electoral conflict claimed so many lives.