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Nigerian President Says Ivory Coast to Have New PM Soon


Nigeria's president says he believes war divided Ivory Coast will soon have a new prime minister. Finishing up a round of talks with all the parties to the conflict, President Olusegun Obasanjo said he would consult with fellow mediators to come up with an acceptable choice for the job.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is also chairman of the African Union, says he has asked all of Ivory Coast's rival political and rebel groups to submit lists of those candidates they would consider possible contenders for the prime minister's job.

He says the process would be carried out in the shortest time possible.

"Within 24 or 48 hours after that, I hope to get those lists back and then of course analyze what names are common if there are such common names," said Olusegun Obasanjo. "And we'll move on from there."

Mr. Obasanjo spent Friday in meetings in Ivory Coast's commercial capital, Abidjan, in an effort to iron out disagreements over the provisions of a recently passed U.N. Security Council resolution on Ivory Coast.

The U.N. resolution, which was approved after presidential elections scheduled for October 30 were deemed impossible, recommended Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo remain in power up to 12 more months.

Mr. Gbagbo's elected mandate ran out last month. New Forces rebels, who have controlled the northern half of the country for the past three years, say they no longer recognize him as president.

The Security Council resolution also called for a new prime minister acceptable to all parties to be named. However, late last month, the New Forces unilaterally appointed their leader Guillaume Soro prime minister . Mr. Soro is on a trip to Europe to promote his claim to the job. A planned trip to the de facto rebel capital Bouake by Mr. Obasanjo had to be canceled at the last minute.

As he was leaving Abidjan, the Nigerian president had this to say about Mr. Soro's self-appointment.

"We have a saying in my part of the world that goes something like this," he said. "That no matter how clever you may be, you don't make yourself king."

However, Mr. Obasanjo said he had agreed to meet with Mr. Soro soon in Germany.

Mr. Obasanjo said he planned to consult with his two fellow mediators on any decision concerning a new prime minister. The two other mediators are Niger President Mamadou Tandja, the leader of the West African bloc ECOWAS, and South African President Thabo Mbeki, the AU's special mediator for Ivory Coast.

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