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Ivory Coast Hard-liners Demand PM's Resignation - 2004-10-18


Hard-line supporters of Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo are gearing up to protest the refusal of northern-based rebels to begin disarming. The so-called Young Patriots are demanding the resignation of the prime minister appointed to lead Ivory Coast's interim government.

The Young Patriots and other pro-Gbagbo militants say it is time for Prime Minister Seydou Diarra to go. Moussa Toure Zeguen is the head of one such group, called the Patriotic Group for Peace. "Since he became prime minister, he hasn't done anything to stop the war. We will use everything to make him go because we don't believe he can get peace in Abidjan. We give the prime minister until Wednesday to give his resignation," he said.

Mr. Zeguen said his group is still deciding how they will organize and mobilize Monday's protests. He said they want to keep Mr. Diarra from going to work or gathering at his private residence but add whatever action they take will be non-violent.

The Young Patriots and allied militant groups along with the ruling party also say they want the president to organize a new government, and get rid of the administration created under the peace deal signed last year to end Ivory Coast's civil war. They say the refusal of New Forces rebels to begin laying down their weapons on Friday shows that the current government is not working.

But New Forces rebels say despite the fact that disarming was part of the peace deal, they refuse until key political reforms, involving land rights and nationality issues, that were to be in place by the end of September, are fully implemented. Only one of the dozen or so laws needed to carry out the peace process was enacted.

Not all anti-rebel factions in Ivory Coast agree with the tactics of Gbagbo's hard-line supporters. The women's group, the Lady Patriots say even though they agree with the goals of the militants, they will not participate in the protests.

Patricia Hamza is a pro-Gbagbo activist. She said demonstrations are not the best way to deal with the crisis. "We can find a solution in the way of the law. Because if we want to make war, it will not be good for everyone in Ivory Coast," she said.

The prime minister released a statement on Sunday saying he has no intention of resigning and that the protests are simply diverting attention away from the work that must be done to move the peace process forward. He also said he will meet with all of Ivory Coast's political parties in the the coming days.

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