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Ivory Coast Cease-fire Covers Entire Country

Rebels and the army in Ivory Coast have signed a cease-fire to cover the entire country, including areas near the border with Liberia.

Ivorian army chief Mathias Doue and rebel leader Michel Gueu signed a total cease-fire for Ivory Coast in Abidjan on Saturday. The cease-fire takes effect Sunday.

Mr. Gueu tells VOA that previous cease-fires did not cover the entire territory.

The rebel leader, who is also the sports minister in a power-sharing government of national reconciliation, says French and African peacekeepers already on the ground will go to western Ivory Coast to help enforce the cease-fire.

Recent clashes in the border region have involved mercenaries from Liberia recruited by both sides in the conflict, but who are now resisting efforts for peace.

The agreement follows a meeting last week between Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and his Liberian counterpart, Charles Taylor, two leaders who previously accused each other of backing the insurgents fighting against their respective governments.

The new agreement signed in Abidjan also calls for the freedom of movement for goods, civilians, aid workers and government officials between rebel and government-held areas.

Ivory Coast has been effectively cut in two since rebels began their insurgency in September.

Remaining obstacles to peace include agreement on new cabinet ministers for the posts of defense and the interior in the reconciliation government.

The head of the Ivorian parliament, Mamadou Koulibaly, asked other lawmakers Friday to refuse to work as long as rebels are not disarmed.