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Gbagbo: Ivory Coast Plans Have Failed; Makes New Proposals


The president of war-divided Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo, says repeated peace efforts have failed. In a speech Tuesday night that completely ignored the latest U.N. road map for peace, Mr. Gbagbo outlined five proposals he says can bring about elections before July 2007. He also says there should be a new government. VOA's Nico Colombant reports from our regional bureau in Dakar.

Mr. Gbagbo says Ivorians should not to be too critical of others who have unsuccessfully tried to help with peace deals since the rebellion started more than four years ago.

In a speech that did not even mention the latest U.N resolution, under which Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny was given a reinforced role in a power-sharing deal, Mr. Gbagbo proposed his own solutions.

He said that there should be direct dialogue between him and northern-based rebels.

He also said that all concessions have been made to rebels, but they still refuse to disarm.

He added that a buffer zone between the government-run south and rebel-held north that is manned by U.N peacekeepers and a French rapid reaction force should be eliminated because it divided the country.

In addition, Mr. Gbagbo said a national civilian service should be started for disgruntled youth both in the north and south. He also said there should be a general amnesty for civil war participants, excluding those who committed crimes against humanity and economic crimes.

Lastly, he said those displaced by war should be helped with a government program to return to their homes.

Under Resolution 1721 adopted in November, the U.N Security Council tasked Prime Minister Banny with organizing a new identification scheme for Ivorians and getting all sides in the country to disarm ahead of elections scheduled for October 2007. Mr. Gbagbo made no mention of this.

He has only grudgingly accepted the presence of U.N. and French peacekeepers, but has never formally asked them to leave.

Rebels say they will not give up their weapons until millions of undocumented northerners are given citizenship and voting rights. They say Mr. Gbagbo is blocking the peace process by putting administrative hurdles in place and preventing the identification scheme from taking place.

A new round of regional peace talks to help Ivory Coast was scheduled to begin Friday in Burkina Faso. Ivory Coast, with its large cocoa sector, remains the strongest economy among its neighbors in West Africa.

The rebellion started in 2002 two years after Mr. Gbagbo won an election in which main politicians were excluded from running. Successive U.N.-backed road maps for peace have extended Mr. Gbagbo's term in office, until elections are held.

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