Mr. Representative of the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research;
Madame President of the University of Félix Houphouët-Boigny;
Mr. Director of the Regional Center of University Works of Abidjan (CROU-A);
Distinguished administrators and faculty members;
Members of the national and local media;
Ladies and gentlemen;
It is my pleasure to be here today to participate in this handover ceremony with the Regional Center of University Works of Abidjan, or CROU-A.
The presidential election in October is an important test for Côte d’Ivoire. The country has made a remarkable recovery since the crisis that followed the 2010 presidential election. Will this recovery continue? Has Côte d’Ivoire turned the page on a prolonged period of instability and political violence? The United States Government is optimistic the answer is “yes” and stands with the Ivoirian people in supporting a peaceful, inclusive, and transparent electoral process. This election presents an opportunity for the country to leave behind armed conflict and instability. This is an important step in realizing Côte d’Ivoire’s goal of becoming a strong, vibrant democracy and an emerging economy by 2020.
Similar to the country’s political and economic transformation, the University of Félix Houphouët-Boigny is undergoing its own renaissance. Previously a site of violence and destruction during the 2010-2011 post-electoral crisis, the university underwent a $200 million (110 billion CFA) renovation in 2012. Like the country itself, the university is working to turn the page on its past.
The United States Government is providing assistance through multiple efforts to promote peace in the university during the electoral period. We have supported the Ivoirian non-government organization Regional Center for Peace Education (RECEPE) in its long-term efforts to promote peace and reconciliation on the Cocody campus. We have also partnered with the Regional Centre for University Works of Abidjan (CROU-A) to encourage the peaceful involvement of students in the electoral process. The CROU-A has recently organized a series of activities on campus, including literary and music competitions, sports tournaments, information campaigns, training sessions, a photo exhibition, a student parade, and a peace concert.
The ceremony today is part of our effort, through the Office of Transition Initiatives of the U.S. Agency for International Development, to revitalize the university marching band and orchestra. Both the orchestra and the marching band are important symbols of the health of the university and its student body. During the post-electoral crisis, all of the university’s musical equipment was either stolen or destroyed. Its replacement today marks a return to normalcy. We hope it will serve to engage students in peaceful extracurricular activities.
Music has the power to animate and unify people. The material and equipment will give students of all backgrounds the opportunity to come together and express themselves creatively and peacefully in various activities on campus.
Distinguished authorities, dear students,
The United States urges administrators, faculty members and the entire student body to take part actively and peacefully in the electoral process. We encourage all eligible voters to go to the polls. This election is an important step in the country’s emergence. All Ivoirians have a role to play in its success. The American people stand with you. Let me reaffirm our commitment to support the country of Cote d’Ivoire on its journey toward the fullest measure of peace, democracy, and development.