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Ivorian Political Parties Agree to New Peace Accord - 2004-07-31


All of the political factions from Ivory Coast have signed a new peace accord in Accra at the close of a two-day summit headed by 13 African heads of state and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who co-chaired the peace talks summit along with Ghanaian president John Kufuor, says the international community will ensure that all factions implement the peace accord.

"Some of these agreements or some of the promises that have been made today we have heard some of them before but times change," he said. "The people are tired. The leaders themselves are beginning to realize they need to get a handle on this and besides there's great international pressure and involvement and interest in this. And, of course, we have to remember the first case the International Criminal Court has taken is in Africa. It's in the DRC [Democratic Republic of Congo] and it's not too far from here."

He says the national unity government of Ivory Coast is ready to resume its urgent work as it prepares to return to the commercial capital Abidjan. Mr. Annan stressed that no new government would be created and the three former ministers who were sacked by Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo will be reinstated.

The executive secretary of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Mohammed Ibn Chambas says there were three main points of the summit.

"The heads of state of governments and the Secretary-General expressed concern at the obstacles to the implementation of the Linas-Marcoussis agreement especially the lack of progress on the eligibility issue, the adoption of the legislative text and the delay to DDR [Disarmament-Demobolization and Reintegration] and call upon the Ivorian political forces to redouble their efforts to return the country to peace and normalcy," he adds.

The new accord promises a restructuring of the military and defense forces. It states that disarmament will commence on October 15 this year and will include the rebels, paramilitary and government militias.

The accord also calls on President Gbagbo to settle the long-standing issue of who is eligible to run for president. He has been given until the end of September this year to implement constitutional changes on nationality and land ownership.

The Ivorian constitution stipulates that all presidential candidates be born of two Ivorian parents. The peace agreement signed in January of last year required that the constitution be amended to say that only one parent be Ivorian born. Only after that change is presented to the national assembly can the disarmament of the various factions begin.

Secretary-General Annan said that a monitoring committee comprised of representatives from the African Union, ECOWAS and the United Nations operation in Ivory Coast would send him bi-monthly reports on the progress made.

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