/ 27 November 2007

Côte d’Ivoire leaders fine-tune peace deal

Leaders of Côte d’Ivoire were to meet on Tuesday with President Blaise Compaore of neighbouring Burkina Faso to fine-tune details of a peace deal brokered by him, officials said.

Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and his Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, a former rebel leader who launched a 2002 uprising against Gbagbo, will travel to Burkina Faso to discuss and sign supplemetary sections to the peace accords sealed in March.

”They are coming to talk about the ongoing peace process,” said Saidou Ouedraogo, communication advisor to Compaore.

A source in the Burkina Faso foreign affairs ministry said the two former rivals will also sign supplementary provisions to the agreement to speed up the peace process in the West African country.

In Abidjan, communications advisor in Soro’s office, Alain Lobognon, said the two leaders would sign two pieces of additional agreements to the deal. One relates to ”the timing of the peace process”, said Lobognon.

A new timetable, which could be adopted on Tuesday, would set new deadlines for the holding of legislative and presidential elections in 2008, possibly ”by the end of the first half of the year”, a well-placed source said.

The second one would be on the choice of a technical operator who is to print new Ivorian identity and voter cards to be issued at the end of a contentious process designed to identify thousands of undocumented people in Côte d’Ivoire.

That should pave the way for updating voters’ rolls.

The world’s top cocoa-producer Côte d’Ivoire, long a beacon of peace and prosperity in west Africa, was sliced in half in 2002 when rebels attempted a coup against Gbagbo.

After a battery of other agreements brokered by former colonial ruler France, the United Nations, the African Union, Gbagbo and ex-rebel leader Guillaume Soro signed a home-grown deal mediated by Burkina Faso. – Sapa-AFP