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Ivory Coast Rebels Pull Out of Government and Warn of War


The leader of the rebel movement New Forces has declared a state of emergency in the north of Ivory Coast after accusing the government of massing troops near rebel positions. Ministers representing the rebels in the national unity government have been ordered to leave the commercial capital and return to rebel territory.

The leader of the New Forces, Guillaume Soro, accused Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo of shipping weapons to a rival rebel leader and threatens that war could begin again soon.

"We note that the President Gbagbo's party chose the military option as a solution to solve the crisis," said Mr. Soro. "New Forces think it is time for the international community to make pressure in order for President Gbagbo to accept to vote political reforms."

There was no immediate response from the Ivory Coast government to Mr. Soros' statements Thursday. But the Ivory Coast ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday the rebels must be disarmed, by force if necessary.

The world's number one cocoa producing nation has been split in two since a failed coup attempt more than two years ago. The government has failed to meet key deadlines involving political and military reforms, contained in the latest peace agreement, which was signed in Ghana in July.

Political reforms were to be implemented by the end of September but only one of the eleven laws has been passed, prompting the rebels to refuse to begin the disarmament process as scheduled on October 15.

Earlier this week the rebels claimed to have intercepted a truck carrying weapons, which they say is a sign that the peace agreement has failed.

The rebel leader, Mr. Soro, imposed a curfew throughout the rebel held area and says disarmament is no longer an option because the war is not over.

President Gbagbo had called for a cabinet ministers meeting to take place Friday to discuss the additional political reforms outlined in the peace agreement. But the ministers in the national unity government representing the rebel movements have been ordered to leave the commercial capital, Abidjan, and return to the rebel stronghold city of Bouake.

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