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Ivory Coast Opposition Wants Constitution Suspended

Ivory Coast's major opposition parties are increasing their appeal to suspend the constitution to help usher in elections and peace.

The Rally of the Houphouetists for Democracy and Peace, the grouping of Ivory Coast's major opposition parties, is mobilizing its supporters at a stadium in the main city Abidjan Sunday morning.

The message, they say, is peace. More precisely, they want a transitional constitution for after October, which will give the prime minister sufficient powers to organize elections.

The political balance of the last year is very negative, the meeting's organizer, Maurice Kakou says. They want a new political arrangement, he says, because the arrangement over last year failed to bring the desired results.

It is only a few days ago that Alassane Ouattara, one of the party leaders and former prime minister, launched his plan for how to proceed after the United Nations-backed peace plan expires at the end of October. He suggests the prime minister

be given the necessary powers to spearhead a complicated voter identification scheme and the disarmament of the rebels, the two biggest obstacles to holding elections.

In Ouattara's plan, the prime minister would be supported by a presidential council, which would include all the main political leaders, including himself.

Opposition leaders and rebels alike say the constitution is in conflict with U.N. resolutions, which were supposed to have provided a blueprint for peace.

President Laurent Ggagbo and the rebel New Forces, who occupy Ivory Coast's north, accuse each other of blocking the peace process.

Mr. Gbagbo, who came to power in disputed elections in 2000, says the constitution cannot be tampered with and he will remain in power until elections are held.