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Ivory Coast's Rebels Pull Out of Reconciliation Government - 2003-09-23


Ivory Coast's rebels say they have pulled out of the government of reconciliation, accusing the president of stalling the implementation of the Marcoussis peace deal signed last January.

The rebels, called New Forces, blame President Laurent Gbagbo for the continued failure to implement a peace agreement signed more than eight months ago. As a result, they have withdrawn from the government of reconciliation.

A published statement approved by the political leader of the New Forces, Guillaume Soro, said the New Forces has suspended its participation in the disarmament program and the reunification committee. The function of that committee was to restore power of the government over rebel-held northern territories.

Guillaume Soro's statement follows a day of closed-door discussions in the second city of Bouake. Mr. Soro called on all New Forces' ministerial representatives to boycott parliament.

This is the most serious blow yet to the process of reconciliation that was mediated by former colonial-power France after a rebellion one year ago.

Ivory Coast's war officially ended with the signing of the Marcoussis peace agreement, but implementing the accord has proved difficult.

The rebels' most recent grievance is President Laurent Gbagbo's appointments of his allies as defense and interior ministers. The rebels accused him of breaching the peace accord, first by dragging his feet in making the appointments, and then by failing to consult them in picking the candidates.

The rebels also accuse the president of rearming to resume the war.

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