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Mediators Urge Ivory Coast Rebels to Resume Government Activities


International mediators who brokered Ivory Coast's peace deal, are calling on rebels to resume their activities within the government of reconciliation.

Leaders of the rebel forces, or New Forces as they are now known, have withdrawn to the Ivory Coast central city of Bouake. Only one of the nine ministers representing the New Forces in government attended Thursday's Cabinet meeting.

The international committee that brokered the Marcoussis peace deal joined Thursday with the United Nations special representative to Ivory Coast, Albert Tevoedjre, in calling for the New Forces to resume their participation in the transitional government.

The leader of the New Forces and minister for information, Guillaume Soro, has accused President Laurent Gbagbo of causing what he described as artificial blockages in the peace process.

Mr. Soro on Tuesday announced his group's withdrawal from government. He accused President Gbagbo of failing to abide by the terms of the Marcoussis peace accord, signed last January in France.

Mr. Soro was quoted in Thursday's newspapers as calling for Mr. Gbagbo's resignation and the departure of the French ambassador, Gildas Le Lidec, during a speech in the New Forces' stronghold of Bouake.

In what is being seen as a largely symbolic gesture, the main road between the commercial capital Abidjan in the south of Ivory Coast and the central, rebel-held city of Bouake has been closed by government forces.

The closure comes after a special ceremony only last week to celebrate the opening of Ivory Coast's northern border with Burkina Faso.

Ivory Coast is a hub for regional trade. Continued instability is seen as damaging the national economy and the economies of many of Ivory Coast's poorer neighbors.

There is considerable international will to see the situation in Ivory Coast resolved, but, internally, the main players continue to be at loggerheads.

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