/ 22 December 2007

Côte d’Ivoire hopes to retrain ex-fighters

Côte d’Ivoire on Friday announced the launch of a national civic service programme to help former rebels and fighters train for jobs in the West African country emerging from a low-level civil war.

The service was a key part of a peace accord signed in March between Côte d’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo, and Guillaume Soro, the former rebel leader turned Prime Minister.

The scheme aims to ”reintegrate into society and into the professions” young Ivorians without qualifications, mainly former fighters from the 2002 rebellion, a government statement said.

The civil service ”is aimed at training and managing young men and women in the values of the republic, as well as in certain professions, in order to insert them back into society”, the statement said.

They will go through a three-month course in citizenship and civic values and then be given vocational training for six months.

The announcement comes as part of a plethora of initiatives aimed at shoring up peace in Côte d’Ivoire — on Thursday a monthly allowance for ex-combatants was announced and disarmament programmes were set to be relaunched on Saturday.

Efforts are under way to compile an electoral roll in the country, ahead of long deferred presidential elections scheduled for June next year at the latest.

Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s top cocoa producer, was split in half by a 2002 rebellion against Gbagbo, with international peacekeepers holding the line between the rebels in the north and government forces in the south. — Sapa-AFP