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Ivory Coast Rebels Call on President to Fully Implement Peace Deal

Rebels in Ivory Coast are calling on President Laurent Gbagbo to fully implement a peace agreement meant to end a nearly five-month war.

The rebels' demands follow a much awaited speech by the Ivory Coast leader, who said he will abide by the spirit of the peace agreement.

The leader, however, raised doubts among the rebels and opposition parties when he said he would not implement parts of the accord that would be in violation of Ivory Coast's constitution.

The agreement, reached in France more than two weeks ago, sparked angry protests by Mr. Gbagbo's supporters, who said it granted too many concessions to the rebels. Word that rebels would get the defense and interior ministries angered the army, which called the accord humiliating.

In his speech Friday, the president said he had not yet made any decision on who would get what post in a new coalition government. He said the matter remained to be negotiated.

Rebels who control about half the country said Saturday they were consulting over Mr. Gbagbo's statement, and would issue an official reaction on Monday or Tuesday. A spokesman for the main northern-based Patriotic Movement of Ivory Coast, however, told VOA the insurgents would in any case demand that the accord be implemented fully.

Abidjan was mostly calm Saturday, with only scattered reports of small demonstrations by youths who wanted Mr. Gbagbo to reject the accord completely.

France, the former colonial power, and other members of the international community have been pressuring Mr. Gbagbo to implement the agreement and end the war, which has created chaos in a country that accounts for much of the West African region's economic output.

The United States on Friday urged President Gbagbo to reiterate clearly his support for the agreement, saying it may be the last opportunity for a peaceful settlement of the conflict.