Accessibility links

Ivory Coast Rebels Discuss Rejoining a Power-Sharing Government - 2003-12-22

Rebels in Ivory Coast are meeting in their northern stronghold to discuss whether to rejoin a power-sharing government. One of the leaders is urging the rebels to return to the government.

The meeting in Bouake opened with exiled leader Ibrahim Coulibaly saying all factions of the northern rebels are ready to rejoin the government.

Mr. Coulibaly, a former army sergeant known by most Ivorians as IB, said he had urged other rebel leaders to rejoin the government and they all agreed. He spoke from France where he is being held as part of an investigation into an alleged plot to kill Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo.

But a rebel spokesman Sidiki Konate said nothing has been decided yet. He said the rebel ministers are now contemplating whether they can work with the reconciliation government of Prime Minister Seydou Diarra.

Rebels pulled out in September, claiming President Laurent Gbagbo was blocking implementation of a January peace accord and refusing to share power.

The rebel spokesman said everything was calm in Bouake, despite reports of skirmishes in recent days among competing rebel factions.

Last week, a group of renegade rebels took over a local television station in Bouake and announced Mr. Coulibaly was their new leader. They also ambushed a convoy carrying the rebel political leader, Guillaume Soro, but he was able to escape unharmed.

Mr. Coulibaly is believed to be the mastermind of last year's insurgency, which split the country in two.

The northern rebels want the French-mediated peace deal implemented because, among other things, it gives many northerners now considered immigrants the right to vote in presidential elections scheduled for 2005.