Efforts to end a rebellion in Ivory Coast appear to have hit another snag as rebels at negotiations in Togo criticize a new draft of a peace accord. The rebels' criticism comes as the conflict in the West African country continues to escalate.
Rebels with the Patriotic Movement of Ivory Coast called the latest proposal for a peace accord insulting, saying it ignored their cause.
The rebels received the plan from mediators in Togo, where peace talks are taking place between the government and the rebels.
The group's external affairs coordinator, Louis Dacoury-Tabley, said the draft is basically an accord between the government and political parties, and does not specifically address the rebels' concerns.
Mr. Dacoury-Tabley said he is surprised because after more than a month of negotiations to end a conflict between the government and the rebels, the mediators are talking about an agreement between the government and political parties.
Members of the government delegation were not immediately available for comment.
The draft presented this week is the latest in a series of proposals presented by both sides in the course of the month long negotiations, which have made little progress thus far.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for one of two new rebel factions that captured much of western Ivory Coast last week said insurgents remained in control of the city of Man Wednesday. The report contradicted claims by the government, which said loyalist forces were firmly positioned in the city.
French forces on Tuesday evacuated a number of foreigners from rebel held areas, as fear grows that the insurrection might develop into a full fledged civil war.
A spokesman for one of the new rebel factions on Tuesday said his group sought to join forces with the Patriotic Movement of Ivory Coast, which has controlled the center and north of Ivory Coast since its members launched initial attacks on September 19.
The MPCI's Louis Dacoury-Tabley said his group has had no contact with the new rebel group, but did not rule out the possible establishment of an alliance that would have a common aim: the ouster of President Laurent Gbagbo.
He said it is obvious to him that if the two groups are fighting for the same cause, it would be logical for them to work together. Mr. Dacoury-Tabley said his group would first have to see if the two indeed have a common cause.
Diplomatic efforts to end the crisis continued Wednesday. Malian President Amadou Toumani-Toure, who has a solid track record of mediating conflicts in Africa, traveled to Togo to meet with Togolese mediators.
On Tuesday, Mr. Toumani-Toure sought to defuse tensions between Ivory Coast and its neighbor, Burkina Faso, by hosting a meeting between Ivorian President Gbagbo and his Burkinabe counterpart, Blaise Compaore. Ivory Coast has repeatedly accused Burkina Faso of supporting the rebels, a charge Burkinabe officials deny.