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Ivory Coast Transitional Government Draws Mixed Reaction

Ivory Coast's recently appointed prime minister Charles Konan Banny has named a government he says will lead the country to elections next year. Reactions to the announcement have been mixed.

Angry supporters of Ivory Coast's president, Laurent Gbagbo, took to the streets in Abidjan Wednesday, as government radio broadcast the list of ministers in the new Cabinet.

Hundreds of militants, known as Young Patriots, threw up barricades and burned tires in a part of the city considered a pro-Gbagbo stronghold. Security forces dispersed the crowd, firing shots in the air. The head of the army, General Philippe Mangou, called for calm.

A militant supporter of the president, Patricia Hamza, says the youths were protesting the presence of two rebel leaders in the new Cabinet.

"We can't accept these men in the government," said Ms. Hamza. "Normally, they must have nothing in the government. Because they [took up] arms, we are in this situation today. The future is not good, and I'm very pessimistic for the future."

Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny will, himself, take over the position of finance minister. The post had previously been held by a supporter of the president.

A member of Ivory Coast's former ruling party, which is now in opposition, Claude Ahobaut, like many political leaders, has hope for Mr. Banny's Cabinet.

He blames the Young Patriots for trying to block a peace process aimed at ending the country's three-year-old civil war. He says the new government must now adhere to a United Nations roadmap for peace that calls for disarmament and presidential elections in 2006.

The leader of the New Forces rebels, Guillaume Soro, and the Number two in the movement, Louis Dakoury Tabley, both have positions in the Cabinet.

But a rebel spokesman, Cisse Sindou, says supporters of Mr. Gbagbo have too much power in the new body. And, he says, the prime minister must now be allowed to do his job.

"No, we are not satisfied with the new composition, but we are giving the benefit of the doubt to the prime minister," said Mr. Sindou. "We are waiting to see how the prime minister is going to have the full power that the resolution 1633 says that he has to have."

Civil war broke out in Ivory Coast in late 2002. A 2003 French-brokered peace deal created a buffer zone separating rebels in the north from government troops in the south.