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ECOWAS to Hold New Ivory Coast Summit


The West African regional grouping, ECOWAS, will hold a regional summit this month to discuss the stalled peace process in war-divided Ivory Coast. President Laurent Gbagbo has said this will be a waste of time, and has accused member countries of backing northern rebels.

The African Union has asked ECOWAS to come up with new proposals for peace-building in Ivory Coast, three years into its civil war. Repeated mediation efforts to implement a ground-breaking peace deal reached in France two-and-a-half years ago have failed.

A summit has been set for September 30 in Abuja.

A supporter of President Gbagbo in Abidjan, Genevieve Bro Grebe, hopes he will not attend.

"We don't want our president to go anywhere," she said. "We don't want him to go anywhere, and I hope he's not going to Abuja. All those people, all those African presidents, we are not going to sit down and see them kill people in Cote d'Ivoire."

Earlier this week Mr. Gbagbo said ECOWAS was biased, and without naming them, he accused several countries of backing northern rebels.

The most recent mediator, South African President Thabo Mbeki, says it is now up to the African Union and to the U.N. Security Council to decide what steps to take.

Ivorian elections are scheduled for October 30, but rebels have yet to disarm, and new laws allowing more northerners the right to become Ivorians and vote have yet to be implemented. All sides agree the elections need to be pushed back.

Rebels and opposition parties want Mr. Gbagbo replaced by a transitional government after his five-year mandate expires in October, to prepare transparent elections. South African officials have said they think Mr. Gbagbo should stay on while preparations for elections continue.

In another development, the U.N. Security Council has announced the president of its sanctions committee will visit Ivory Coast soon, in a step to possible sanctions against those found blocking the peace process.

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