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Ivory Coast Government Disbanded Over Toxic Waste Scandal

Ivory Coast's Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny has dissolved the country's transitional government amid a scandal over the dumping of toxic waste in the commercial capital, Abidjan. The prime minister is due to meet with President Laurent Gbagbo Thursday to form a new government.

The news of the disbanding of Ivory Coasts nine-month-old transitional government was announced by Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny, following a special cabinet meeting called in the administrative capital, Yamoussoukro, Wednesday.

Mr. Banny tells President Laurent Gbagbo the situation is serious. That's why, he says, he is handing in the resignation of the government.

The dissolution of the government followed the reading of a statement issued by the cabinet on the current state of the health crisis that has marred Ivory Coasts main city, Abidjan, for several days.

In it the government stated that, to date, 1,500 of the city's residents had so far sought medical care for symptoms suspected of having links to the dumping of toxic waste in several landfills in Abidjan. Three people were confirmed to have died as a result of their illnesses.

The government vowed to pay the medical cost for those in need of treatment. A special commission is currently looking into the affair. And three people have already been arrested.

President Gbagbo, in accepting the government's resignation, said this crisis is different from the failed coup attempt in late 2002 that had degenerated into civil war.

He says it is an evil we are not used to. "We have lived through all kinds of problems in Ivory Coast," he said, " but we have never known this kind of toxic waste in Abidjan."

Mr. Banny will, for now, stay on as prime minister. He is due to meet with the president Thursday afternoon in Abidjan to name a new government.