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Ghana Meeting Attempts to Resurrect Ivorian Peace Deal

Ivory Coast's former rebels, the New Forces, and the prime minister are meeting for a second day in Ghana in an effort to resurrect an unraveling peace deal. Rebel leaders are not hopeful of a breakthrough.

Speaking from the New Forces stronghold in Bouake, the former rebels' top aide, Cesse Sendou, says he would prefer peace talks to take place in the United States. He says African-mediated deals are not respected by President Laurent Gbagbo.

"I think we are not talking with the right man in Accra," he said. "I do not think that [Ghana President] John Kufuor has any means to force Gbagbo to do anything. This negotiation I think should probably be taken in New York, in the United States or somewhere where he knows that if he signs anything there is going to be consequences that he does not apply to. Because here Gbagbo knows that his African peers are not going to do anything. It is just going to be talk signatures and we are still at the first point."

The New Forces control the northern half of Ivory Coast after staging a rebellion on September 19, 2002. Peace talks mediated by France in January cleared the way for the establishment of a government of reconciliation in March.

But that reconciliation process faltered after the New Forces withdrew from the government and accused President Gbagbo of violating the terms of the peace deal by appointing government positions unilaterally. President Gbagbo accuses the New Forces of refusing to begin a process of disarmament, another part of the January deal.

Seven heads of state met for a summit last week in Accra to resuscitate the January peace deal, but the meeting failed to make a breakthrough. New Forces representatives were not invited to the summit.