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Africans Try to Revive Ivory Coast Peace Process


West African mediators for Ivory Coast are trying to convince rebels to rejoin a power-sharing government as threats for renewed war increase.

Rebel leaders traveled to Ghana Tuesday to meet with Ghanaian President John Kufuor amid increased diplomatic efforts to defuse tensions in Ivory Coast, the world's leading cocoa producer.

Mr. Kufuor is also rotating president of the Economic Community of West African States. The grouping has taken a lead role in trying to revive the unraveling peace process in Ivory Coast.

Northern-based rebels ended their participation in a power-sharing government in September, accusing President Laurent Gbagbo of keeping power to himself and failing to implement a French-brokered peace deal. The accord includes a provision to give voting rights to many northern Ivorians now considered foreigners.

Rebel spokesman Cisse Sendou says the New Forces, as the rebels call themselves, are going to Accra so that prior agreements can be enforced.

Mr. Sendou says Mr. Gbagbo violated an agreement to name new interior and defense ministers by consensus when he chose them unilaterally in September.

The rebel spokesman also says the threat of renewed war is growing.

Monday, rebels declared a state of emergency in areas under their control, saying the Ivorian army was preparing to attack their northern strongholds of Bouake and Man.

French peacekeepers on the ground say the accusations are based on rumors and that everything is calm in the former French colony.

But the Ivorian army chief of staff, Mathias Doue, has also recently warned that war can resume at any moment, as long as rebels refuse to disarm.

Fighting ended late last year following the deployment of several thousand French peacekeepers.

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