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Ivory Coast Rebels to Attend Peace Summit in Accra - 2004-07-07


Rebel leaders in Ivory Coast have accepted an invitation to attend peace talks with West African leaders in the Ghanaian capital Accra later this month.

U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who announced the meeting, said it will take place July 29 and bring together heads of state from West Africa.

Presidents from Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, Gabon and Mali agreed to the meeting at the African Union summit in Addis Ababa, and are expected to come to Accra.

From Ivory Coast, the leaders invited all of the parties to the January 2003 peace agreement. The French-brokered accord has not been implement and the peace process has ground to a halt.

A spokesman for the rebels, Sidiki Konate, says it's time to get the peace process on track again.

"The African Union decided to organize a last summit about Ivory Coast because everybody is tired of the problem of Ivory Coast,? Mr. Konate said. ?The Ivorians are suffering and I think this summit in Accra will give a chance to all these institutions now to confront [President Laurent] Gbagbo and to use all the pressure so that we obtain a good result."

The rebels, who control the northern part of the country, have refused to talk to President Gbagbo directly, blaming him for the collapse of the peace process and accusing him of arming for a war against them.

Despite occasional skirmishes, there has been no fighting on front lines since late 2002. Several thousand French and U.N. troops have been deployed in Ivory Coast to keep the rebels in the north and the loyalists in the south at peace.

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