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Ivory Coast Prime Minister to Announce Key Cabinet Positions - 2003-09-12

The prime minister of Ivory Coast has promised that the key jobs of ministers of defense and security will be filled by the end of the day. This comes the day after tens of thousands of people demonstrated in rebel-held territory for full implementation of the peace accord signed early this year, including the appointment of the ministers.

Signatories of the Marcoussis peace deal made in January, met Friday to discuss appointments to the key ministries.

A list of four candidates has been drawn up and Prime Minister Seydou Diarra has guaranteed a final choice will be made by the end of the day.

Disagreements over who will fill the defense and security posts in the government of national reconciliation have become a major stumbling block in the effort to cement peace in Ivory Coast.

For the past six months interim candidates of the president's choosing have held the two pivotal posts.

The former rebels say this undermines the terms of the Marcoussis peace deal. A key element of the agreement is that the rebels and the government must agree on who will fill the defense and security posts.

The rebels continue to hold the north of Ivory Coast, essentially splitting the country in two. They say a crucial disarmament program and process of reunification will not begin until appointments to the defense and security ministries are made.

In rebel territory, ordinary Ivorians are keen to see the issue resolved too. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets yesterday calling on the government to heed the terms of the Marcoussis peace accord and appoint defense and security ministers.