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Army, Rebels Officially Declare End of War in Ivory Coast - 2003-07-04

In Ivory Coast, the army and rebels have signed a declaration formally ending a war that began last September. Friday's statement comes more than six months after a peace accord was signed in France. Even though fighting finally stopped last month, very little from the peace accord has been implemented.

After signing the document, rebel spokesman Bamba Sinima called on all Ivorians to work for peace, including politicians and youth groups who have been opposed to the French-brokered peace deal.

Mr. Sinima also called for the immediate appointment of ministers of defense and the interior in the power-sharing government and said President Laurent Gbagbo must stop buying weapons.

Mr. Gbagbo says although the military has decided to stop the war, he believes it continues politically.

He said much works remains to be done, such as getting all of Ivory Coast back under government control. The northern half remains in rebel hands, and in western Ivory Coast, Liberian mercenaries who fought for both sides are still operating.

Mr. Gbagbo says all foreign fighters are being chased out while the implementation of the peace accord has started, including the drafting an amnesty law for all Ivorian fighters in the conflict.

Just a few hours earlier, youth groups opposed to the power-sharing government with rebels again took to the streets in Abidjan.

A leader of one of the youth groups, Charles Ble Goude, called on activists to hold a major protest Saturday at the headquarters of the national television. They want executives at the national television to be reinstated.

The executives were temporarily suspended after hundreds of youths tried to attack rebel leader turned Communications minister Guillaume Soro while he visited the national television for the first time last week.