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Rebels Reject Ivory Coast Peace Deal but Continue Talks - 2002-11-14


Ivory Coast rebels say they will remain in negotiations with the government, even after rejecting parts of a partial peace deal aimed at ending the country's eight-week-old rebellion.

Rebels with the Patriotic Movement of Ivory Coast said they are willing to keep negotiating with the Ivory Coast government, and have presented a list of counter-proposals to the chief mediator, Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema.

The partial peace deal was presented to the rebels by West African mediators.

Togolese observers say the main stumbling block appears to be the government's insistence that the rebels disarm immediately. Rebels say they will not do so until a final peace accord has been signed

The rebels, who launched their attacks on September 19, have demanded President Gbagbo's resignation.

Following the rebels' rejection of the draft, the rebel and government delegations met for several hours with President Eyadema. The Togolese leader has been working to keep the talks on track, amid growing frustration on both sides over the slow pace of the negotiations.

Thus far, the West African mediators have succeeded only in getting both sides to agree on settling the military demands of the insurgents. In a partial accord reached earlier, the government agreed to grant amnesty to the rebels and the rebels agreed to grant passage to humanitarian workers and supplies in the areas they control.

The conflict in what was once one of West Africa's most stable countries has killed hundreds of people.

A cease-fire has held for nearly a month, but both sides have warned they have been preparing to re-launch attacks if the negotiations fail.

Tensions remain high in Abidjan as people awaited word on the outcome of negotiations in Togo. Fearing a new outbreak of violence, authorities expanded a nighttime curfew that has been in place in the government-controlled areas of the country for nearly two months.

Thousands of people hurried to get home Wednesday after government officials made a sudden announcement that the curfew would take effect two-hours earlier than usual.

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