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US Concerned Over Political Impasse In Ivory Coast - 2004-03-12

The U-S Embassy in Ivory Coast has expressed concern about the country's political impasse, and called on President Laurent Gbagbo to work with all parties to move forward in the peace process.

The embassy statement says it is the duty of President Gbagbo as head of state to ensure the continuation of the peace process. The embassy says it is important to work with all the parties which have signed the peace accord.

The embassy issued the rare statement in response to increased tensions in Ivory Coast since the People's Democratic Party suspended its participation in the national unity government last week.

Several of the political parties and rebel movements are meeting on Monday to determine what role they will play in the government headed by President Gbagbo.

The political parties said Thursday they will hold a large public demonstration to protest the actions of a militia-style youth group, known as the Young Patriots, which is allied with President Gbagbo.

The Young Patriots stormed the Justice Ministry on Tuesday and attacked several magistrates. The magistrates have refused to return to work because they say the security forces failed to assist them during the attacks.

President Gbagbo has since banned all public demonstrations until April 30th, saying he wants to deter his own supporters from acting so aggressively.

The statement from the U-S government also condemned the actions of the youth group. The embassy appealed to all parties to work together and proceed with the disarmament process, which was due to begin Monday, but has been delayed indefinitely.