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07 Dec 2004 00:00
The government and rebel officials in Côte d’Ivoire have agreed on a new timetable to carry out a long-stalled peace plan in West Africa’s economic hub, South African President Thabo Mbeki announced.
Briefing reporters after a five-day peace mission in Côte d’Ivoire, Mbeki said warring sides have settled on timing of disarmament, security reforms, and other divisive points.
“We’ve agreed with everybody on all these matters and ... the delegation has indicated the time frames for all of these things,” Mbeki said on Monday in the commercial capital, Abidjan.
The peace mission follows a three-day return to government attacks on the rebel-held north last month.
A first step will come in early January, Mbeki said, when Côte d’Ivoire’s national assembly will convene an emergency session to discuss a contentious constitutional requirement stipulating that any presidential candidate be a second-generation Ivorian.
Côte d’Ivoire’s southern-based government has used the requirement to bar a presidential run by an oppostion leader with heavy support in the north, Alassane Ouattara, claiming his parents were not born in Côte d’Ivoire.
Mbeki did not give dates for the other steps, including disarmament, or for the restarting of a power-sharing government that rebels have boycotted.
Côte d’Ivoire has been split into rebel-held north and loyalist south since a September 2002 coup attempt propelled the world’s largest cocoa grower into civil war.
Both sides have agreed to peace accords but failed to carry them out.
President Laurent Gbagbo last month reopened attacks with airstrikes on the rebel-held north for three days, citing insurgents’ failure to disarm.
An airstrike on november 6 killed nine French peacekeepers and an United States aid worker, and prompted brief, unprecedented battles between Côte d’Ivoire’s forces and those of its former colonial ruler, France.
Mbeki, who has been mandated by the African Union to mediate, said he would make regular visits to Côte d’Ivoire to see that both sides stick to their agreements.
Also on Monday, the United Nations special envoy to war-divided Côte d’Ivoire confirmed his resignation, citing his age of 75 and setbacks to the
“I resigned because after what happened on the 4th of November, it means that everything we’ve done until then has been challenged,” envoy Albert Teovedjre said on Monday.
Teovedrjre started his job in Côte d’Ivoire in February 2003.
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