Accessibility links

Breaking News

Ivory Coast Cease-Fire Holds; War of Words Continues - 2002-10-21

A cease-fire agreement between the government and rebels appears to be holding in Ivory Coast. But the war of words continues as both sides prepare to begin negotiations for a comprehensive peace accord.

French military officials who are charged with monitoring the cease-fire agreement say no gunfire has been exchanged between loyalists and rebels since the accord was signed last Thursday.

But Ivory Coast military officials are accusing the rebels of violating the agreement. Ivorian army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jules Yao-Yao said insurgents looted the homes of military commanders in the rebel-held city of Bouake, something he said is against the terms of the cease-fire accord that went into effect Friday.

The military spokesman said the government would be in its right to attack the rebels, but stopped short of saying a new assault would take place.

Some rebels, meanwhile, have said in recent days they were not ready to support the truce and vowed to keep fighting. Sunday in Bouake, hundreds demonstrated against the government and called for the ouster of President Laurent Gbagbo.

Rallies have also taken place almost daily in Abidjan, where government supporters have been calling for loyalist troops to ignore the cease-fire agreement and pursue the rebels.

France, whose forces in Ivory Coast now exceed more than 1,000 troops, has deployed cease-fire monitors in rebel-held areas. French monitors will maintain their positions until West African troops deploy.

The eventual deployment of West African peacekeepers is part of Thursday's cease-fire deal brokered by ministers of the Economic Community of West African States.

West African leaders are scheduled to hold a summit in Abidjan on Friday to begin planning the deployment.

Rebels, who launched their attacks on September 19, continue to hold a large section of the center and north of Ivory Coast.

The country is the world's largest cocoa producer, and news of the cease-fire agreement helped send world prices for the beans used to make chocolate plunging after they had reached a near 17 year high.