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Ivorian Rebels, Opposition, Civilians Worry Over New Delays

Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore traveled to Yamoussoukro, the capital of Ivory Coast, Tuesday to assess a March peace deal he brokered with northern rebels, opposition leaders and President Laurent Gbagbo. There are renewed worries this latest attempt at reconciliation is stalling as did previous efforts to reunify the world's leading cocoa producer. VOA's Nico Colombant reports from our West Africa bureau in Dakar.

This is one of the many positive speeches rebel leader Guillaume Soro has made since becoming prime minister in the latest reconciliation government.

It was to inaugurate a new integrated command center for a yet to be reunified army.

There have also been reconciliation football matches, trips by presidential allies and advisers to the rebel-held north, and symbolic disarmament ceremonies of western militias.

Another rebel leader, minister of solidarity and war victims Louis-Andre Dakoury Tabley, says the new deal has helped in reducing tensions, but he says it is a façade.

He says people are congratulating one another, and censoring themselves in the name of peace, but that real progress must be made.

He says the roots of the war are corruption, and hate and humiliation of northerners by southern authorities against a backdrop of economic difficulties. Dakoury Tabley says until millions of undocumented northerners get their Ivorian papers, national elections will not be possible.

The identification process has started many times, only to be blocked, frequently on technicalities.

An opposition youth leader, Yayoro Karamoko, says roadblocks are still everywhere in the south, and security forces still harass everyone who has a northern name.

He says he is also worried that President Gbagbo wants to organize twice-delayed elections using state institutions under his control, rather than the United Nations.

Karamoko says he wants an election in which the loser will accept the result and congratulate the winner, but in his opinion this will only be possible if the U.N. organizes the vote.

He says Mr. Gbagbo has denied the U.N. mission in Ivory Coast any real authority.

The president, who comes from the southern ethnic Bete tribe, says he is fighting against outside meddling, including by the former colonial power France, and that the solution to the Ivorian war must come from Ivorians and Africans.

Mr. Gbagbo won elections in 2000 that he himself described as chaotic. Main opposition leaders were barred from running by a former coup leader, and riots followed the results.

An unemployed man, Abdou Kouo, says he can taste peace, but that it is not in his hands, but in the hands of those who fought the war, who are now discussing peace.

Mr. Gbagbo used to accuse the man now leading the new mediation efforts, Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, of backing the rebels, something Mr. Compaore has always denied.