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Ivory Coast Prime Minister to Name Government Next Week, Opposition Vows Boycott


Ivory Coast's Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny says a new government will be named by next week to replace the one disbanded amid a toxic waste scandal. But opposition leaders say they will boycott it, and are calling for a new prime minister.

Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny disbanded the war-divided country's nine-month-old transitional government Wednesday amid a toxic waste scandal that led to street protests that paralyzed parts of the main city, Abidjan, earlier this week.

"Never again will anything be allowed to go unpunished," Mr. Banny told journalists in Abidjan. "We must, from now on, assume with seriousness, our responsibilities. You govern for the people. You do not govern against the people."

Officials Wednesday said more than 1,500 residents of Abidjan had been treated for symptoms believed to be related to the dumping of hundreds of tons of dangerous chemicals in the city's landfills. Three deaths were also confirmed.

Officials say the waste was unloaded from a Panamanian-registered ship that docked at an Abidjan port August 19. Companies linked to the ship and its toxic contents have said they paid a local company, named Tommy, to safely and legally dispose of the waste.

Mr. Banny met with President Laurent Gbagbo late Thursday and had been expected to announce the new cabinet at the end of the meeting. However, he said after he would need more time.

"I will proceed to consultations in the coming days with the different political leaders," he said. "I believe I can say that, beginning next week, the new government will be in place," he said.

The opposition bloc, known as the G-7 was quick to react to Wednesday's disbanding of the government. In a statement issued Thursday, the group, which includes the leading opposition parties as well as the New Forces rebel, said both the President and Mr. Banny have violated the U.N Security Council resolution that brought the prime minister to power.

They said they would refuse to participate in any government outside of the resolution and without a consensus. They also called for Mr. Banny's immediate replacement.

The International Working Group on Ivory Coast, composed of representatives of the countries attempting to broker an end to the country's four-year-old civil war, is due to meet on Friday. They are expected to discuss the latest crisis with the Prime Minister.

Ivory Coast has been split into a rebel held north and government controlled south since late 2002.