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Ivory Coast: Thousands Protest Deal with Rebels


In Ivory Coast, there were new demonstrations by workers who want President Laurent Gbagbo to back out of a deal granting key government posts to rebels who control half the country.

Thousands of government supporters took the streets to protest a deal that they say grants too many concessions to rebels.

The demonstrators marched peacefully from a monument in an outlying district of the city to the French embassy, where they sounded drums, blew whistles, and called for an annulment of the agreement.

Some demonstrators said they were growing impatient as President Gbagbo has yet to deliver a much-awaited speech in which he is expected to say whether he will implement the accord.

The agreement, mediated by France last month, includes a power-sharing arrangement in which rebels and opposition parties get key government posts.

President Gbagbo publicly accepted the accord in France, but has hinted he might reject it in light of pressure from his supporters and the army, all of whom have come out against it.

The demonstrations occurred as French military officials announced they were boosting their troop presence in Ivory Coast from the current 2,500 to more than 3,000 soldiers. Officials said the added deployments are expected to arrive in the coming days.

French troops are charged with enforcing a cease-fire, and have prevented a rebel advance toward the main city. Officially, they are in Ivory Coast to protect the lives of the thousands of French citizens who live in the country.

Following a wave of attacks last week on French-owned businesses and institutions, France has urged its nationals who have no essential business in the former French colony to leave.