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Ivory Coast Rebels Present Counter-Proposals at Peace Talks - 2002-11-19

Rebels in Ivory Coast have presented a set of counter-proposals to negotiators working to end a two month rebellion in the West African country.

The rebels gave their counter-proposals to the chief mediator of the talks, Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema.

Rebel leaders touted the proposals as constructive, but did not give any details on what their offer contained.

Talks have been stalled on the issue of the rebels' main demands, which include the resignation of President Laurent Gbagbo and the holding of new elections. Rebels last week rejected a draft proposal presented by mediators, saying it favored the government and did not include the removal of Mr. Gbagbo from office.

One member of the rebel delegation, Louis Dacoury-Tabley, said the rebels continue to consider their demands for Mr. Gbagbo's resignation realistic.

There was no immediate comment from members of the government delegation.

Little progress has been reported after three-weeks' of negotiations in the Togolese capital, Lome.

Meanwhile, frustration has been growing in Ivory Coast over the slow pace of the talks.

The country remains divided. The rebels hold the north and center, while the south and west are under government control.

The division has stifled business in Abidjan, one of West Africa's main commercial hubs, and threatened the harvest and transport of cocoa, Ivory Coast's main export.