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Ivory Coast Rebel Deadline Looms Despite Meeting with Prime Minister


A meeting in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, between Ivory Coast's prime minister and Ivorian rebels ended Friday with no formal announcement of an agreement. There is no word yet on what role the rebels may have in a new coalition government that is being formed to end a five-month war in the West African country.

The meeting in Accra was held behind closed doors. Despite making no announcement of a breakthrough, the Ivorian prime minister and the rebels had dinner together after the gathering.

Prime Minister Seydou Diarra was appointed recently in accordance with a peace agreement reached in France three weeks ago. Under the terms of the accord, Mr. Diarra has the task of forming a new government that will include members of all elements of Ivory Coast's political scene, including the rebels.

The latest impasse has centered on the rebels' claims that the agreement entitles them to the key ministries of defense and the interior. The government of President Laurent Gbagbo strongly opposes giving the insurgents the posts.

Mediators with the Economic Community of West African States issued a statement late Friday saying the prime minister would continue consultations with various politicians before submitting a final list to President Gbagbo.

The Ivorian leader will review the final list when the prime minister submits it to him in the coming days. In a speech more than a week ago, Mr. Gbagbo said he would ultimately decide whether to accept it.

Rebels have warned they may resume attacks if the accord was not implemented by Sunday.

The war in Ivory Coast, the world's leading cocoa producer, began with a failed coup attempt in September. It has killed hundreds and left the country divided between the rebel-controlled north and the loyalist south.

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