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Ivory Coast Delays Political Reforms Again


Ivory Coast's president has rescheduled until next week a meeting of cabinet ministers scheduled for Friday to discuss political reforms. The delay followed a decision by the leader of the rebel movement New Forces to recall his ministers from the commercial capital for consultations in the rebel-held north.

The leader of the New Forces, Guillaume Soro, ordered the ministers representing the northern rebels in Ivory Coast's unity government to return to the north and said he will meet with them in the rebel stronghold city of Bouake.

Mr. Soro has accused president Laurent Gbagbo of send arms to the rival rebel faction in the north of the divided Ivory Coast in an attempt to reignite fighting there.

A spokesman for the New Forces, Sidiki Konate, says Mr. Gbagbo is trying to spark war in the north.

"Because we catch two cars with weapons which were from Yamoussoukro and which would be delivered here in Bouake to some people who should attack the New Forces position," Mr. Konate explained. "And we have a lot of information now that Mr. Laurent Gbagbo and Mr. Ibrahima Coulibaly were responsible for this new situation."

The rebels say the vehicles were traveling from the capital, Yamoussoukro, which is located in the government controlled south, and passed through the United Nations monitored cease-fire zone.

There are more than six thousand U.N. peacekeepers in Ivory Coast. Several peace agreements to reunite the country after a failed coup attempt more than two years have not been implemented.

Rebel spokesman, Mr. Konate says the rebel ministers will meet to reassess their position in the government in light of the latest developments.

"This is only a consultation that we are all talking about peace. We are all talking about the peace process, about the peace agreement," he said. "We are all now looking for a solution to implement the peace agreement. But we see that the side of Mr. Laurent Gbagbo, the clan of Mr. Laurent Gbagbo is working for war."

The leader of the New Forces on Thursday declared a state of emergency in the north after accusing President Gbagbo of failing to comply with the terms of the latest peace agreement and, instead, inciting renewed violence. Ivory Coast was split two years ago, following an unsuccessful attempt by the rebels to overthrow President Gbagbo's government.