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Ivory Coast Rebels Fail to  Assume New Government Posts - 2003-04-07


Rebel leaders in Ivory Coast have failed to take up their new government posts, saying further preparations are necessary before they can begin to function as ministers in a new reconciliation government.

The rebels had been expected at a meeting to formally begin their work as heads of ministries granted to them under the terms of a January peace agreement with the Ivory Coast government.

A spokesman for the main rebel group, the Patriotic Movement of Ivory Coast, told VOA the insurgents would hold further consultations before reporting to work.

Rebels said they remained concerned about their security in Abidjan, where a few of them arrived Sunday. It was the first time the insurgents had set foot in the commercial capital since the start of the war more than six months ago.

Last week, they traveled from their bases in the west and north of Ivory Coast to the political capital, Yamoussoukro, where they attended a cabinet meeting for the first time.

A total of nine ministries were granted to the insurgents in the reconciliation government that was set up last month.

Abidjan has been the scene of violent protests by supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo, who believe the peace accord mediated by France grants too much power to the rebels.

Youth groups made up of the president's supporters have vowed they will continue to protest the naming of rebels to cabinet posts.

There were other signs that suggested the peace deal remains fragile. Leaders of the Movement for People of the Great West group, one of three insurgent factions, accused government forces of keeping up their attacks on their positions.

The rebel group warned the peace deal could fall apart if nothing is done to stop the attacks.

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