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Ivory Coast PM Vows to Push Through Peace Plan


Ivory Coast's prime minister has welcomed a United Nations resolution, which extends his term and gives him some of the president's powers. Many Ivorians are not sure Charles Konan Banny will be able to carry out his mandate.

Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny told Ivorians Wednesday he would implement the new U.N. Security Council resolution, which curbs the powers of the president and extends his own.

Mr. Banny said he will take on all of his responsibilities and will carry out the mission he was given, and he says, he hopes everyone will support him.

Resolution 17-21 charges Mr. Banny with disarming northern rebels and southern militia as well as organizing a comprehensive identification program, which will lead to new electoral lists. The ultimate aim is to hold elections by October 2007, which will reunite war-divided Ivory Coast.

The Security Council has given Mr. Banny power over the army and the right to govern by decree, so he can carry out his tasks.

President Laurent Gbagbo has already made clear he will not accept infringements on his power, which he says are entrenched in the constitution.

Mr. Banny was appointed as a neutral prime minister last December following a similar U.N. resolution. He was supposed to pave the way for elections, but has come under fire from all camps since the peace process broke down in August.

His critics in the opposition say he is scared of standing up to Mr. Gbagbo, while Gbagbo-loyalists accuse him of being partial to the rebel New Forces.

The rebels have controlled the north since they failed to topple Mr. Gbagbo in a 2002 coup.

Some 11,000 U.N. and French troops patrol a buffer zone between north and south.

Mr. Banny said he is confident peace in the country will be restored.

He said, Ivorians have found the path to peace again, and, he said, there is no reason to choose another path now.

President Gbagbo said Tuesday he thinks Ivorians need to come up with their own solution to the conflict.