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Ivory Coast President OKs Peace Deal, Names New PM

Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo has named a prime minister as part of an agreement to end four months of civil war. He had accepted the peace agreement earlier Saturday at a summit in Paris. Mr. Gbagbo's sudden acceptance was both dramatic and welcomed by the other participants.

For more than 24 hours after the Ivory Coast government, rebels and political parties reached agreement on a power sharing arrangement, President Gbagbo withheld his approval.

In a 90 minute meeting Friday, French President Jacques Chirac was believed to have urged Mr. Gbagbo to seize what the French considered an opportunity to avert disaster.

But a summit of Mr. Chirac, eight West African heads of state and United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan began Saturday with Mr. Gbagbo maintaining his silence. Under pressure from the others he finally accepted the plan.

Ivory Coast will have a government of national reconciliation that includes rebel and opposition representatives. Its prime minister, who will hold much of the power but will not be able to run for president, will be Seydou Diarra, who is a Muslim from the rebel-held north and was prime minister just prior to Mr. Gbagbo's election in 2000. His government will decide when to hold new elections. The rebels will disarm.

The summit will endorse the agreement. Its participants also talked about implementing the peace accord. Supporters of both the government and the rebel factions have indicated they will oppose it.

There was also discussion of regional confidence building measures. The four month old civil war in Ivory Coast has also led to increased tensions with neighbors Liberia and Burkina Faso.