IVORY COAST’S VOLUNTARY DISARMAMENT
By Paul Ndiho
February 14, 2012
A United Nations voluntary campaign in Cote D’lvoire is calling on civilians with illegal weapons still in circulation to hand them over. The West African nation is still recovering from the post-election turmoil that killed more than 1,000 people and rekindled the country’s 2002 civil war.
Ivory Coast is still emerging from the violence that sprang from the 2010 election dispute between former president Laurent Gbagbo and current President Alassane Ouattara.
The U.N. weapons return operation is part of a wider national campaign that began in June of last year.
Last week in a suburb of Abidjan, those who brought in their weapons stressed that they no longer need them now that violence has ended.
“We have deposited weapons because it was becoming cumbersome. The war is over. We fought for a cause that has been acquired.”
“Not every call has to be for the military life. We must deposit the arms to return to our civil life.”
Ivorians say that their nation now has more pressing concerns than political infighting.
“We had taken up arms for a cause: freedom, justice and equality. All of that has been restored, so we decided to disarm. Yet, I ask the Government to think of us. We need to eat.”
Since the weapons collection program began in Ivory Coast, more than 1,000 arms have been turned in. The program is supported by the Ivorian police in cooperation with the United Nations Operation in Cote D’Ivoire.