A rebel leader from western Ivory Coast has been detained in the southern government-run commercial capital, Abidjan, adding to fears that the stalled power-sharing peace deal is in more jeopardy.
A main leader of the Ivorian Popular Movement of the Great West, known as MPIGO, Emmanuel Guehi, has been detained since last Thursday.
Opposition leaders claim Mr. Guehi was abducted last week by four men driving a four wheel drive vehicle and that he is now in police custody, but they say they have been unable to meet with him. He has been allowed to make calls with his cell phone, but all incoming calls are being answered by police officers.
Police officials speaking on condition of anonymity say Mr. Guehi is suspected of trying to funnel arms from neighboring countries, launder money, and recruit pro-rebel militias in the south, even though no official reason has been given for his arrest.
A top political rebel leader, Cisse Sendou, accused Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo of orchestrating what he calls a masquerade. "This is a political arrest because, so far, we have not got any explanation why he has been arrested and based on what reason the arrest has taken place. This is another way for Gbagbo not to apply the Marcoussis accord or even to jeopardize peace. I would describe the Marcoussis agreement as being in a coma. It is not dead yet, but it is not far from being dead. We are still at the point where there is not even a beginning of the application," he said.
Marcoussis is the name of the Paris suburb where rebels, the opposition and the Ivorian government signed the power-sharing peace deal in January 2003.
Opposition groups and rebels left the unity government last March after security forces, under orders from what a leaked United Nations report says came from the highest state authorities, killed more than 100 people in a crackdown on an opposition march.
Rebel leader Guillaume Soro, who has been staging support rallies throughout the north, has called for the international community to send Mr. Gbagbo to a war crimes tribunal. He said rebels will not disarm and will not allow scheduled elections in 2005 unless Mr. Gbagbo is forced into exile.
The French government called for Mr. Soro to respect the institutional integrity of Ivory Coast and ensure that elections can be held throughout the country before the end of 2005. Mr. Gbagbo has called for rebels to disarm immediately.
Meanwhile, military equipment for a new 6,000 soldier U.N. peacekeeping mission began arriving at Abidjan's port.