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Ivory Coast Names New Transitional Government

Ivory Coast's recently appointed Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny has named his new government. The prime minister gave himself a couple of portfolios in the 32-member cabinet.

As a member of President Laurent Gbagbo's communications team read the list of the new ministers, it was quickly clear major changes had been made.

The new cabinet is significantly smaller than its predecessor, with 32 posts rather than 42. And Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny will play several roles, as he takes over the duties of the ministers of finance and communication.

The previous communications minister, the leader of the New Forces rebels Guillaume Soro, will now serve as minister of reconstruction. The former finance minister, a staunch supporter of the president, Antoine Bohoun Bouabre, is the new government's minister for planning and development.

A judge, Rene Aphing Kouassi, will serve in the sensitive position of minister of defense.

Speaking after the announcement of his new cabinet, Prime Minister Banny said the choosing of a government from among Ivory Coast's warring factions had been a tough political test. And he said it was a test he felt the country had passed.

Mr. Banny's appointment as prime minister by African mediators earlier this month came after weeks of political haggling. Ivorians had to wait several more weeks for the announcement of the new government.

Mr. Banny told VOA the delay had been reasonable given the severity of the crisis in the country.

"Forming a government in the United States takes at least two months," he said. "You know, we took three weeks. That's not a while, I know. You know it is very difficult. We are facing a very difficult situation. So, we have to combine all the qualities. It's not easy."

Militant youth supporters of President Gbagbo took to the streets immediately after the announcement of the new government burning tires and blocking traffic on some of the city's major arteries. They said not enough posts had been given to Mr. Gbagbo's supporters.

The appointment of a new prime minister and the formation of a new government had been requirements of a U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at paving the way for presidential elections next year. The ballot was originally set for October, but the U.N. conditions for free and fair elections had not been met.