Accessibility links

Breaking News

Ivory Coast Rebels Finally Join Reconciliation Government - 2003-04-03


All the rebel groups in Ivory Coast have joined a reconciliation government, marking what many hope is the end of a six-month war in the West African country.

Nine insurgents left their bases in northern and western Ivory Coast and flew into Yamoussoukro on French military helicopters. It was the first time they had set foot in Ivory Coast's political capital since they started their campaign to oust President Laurent Gbagbo more than six months ago.

Amid much fanfare, the rebels took their positions among other ministers in a new power-sharing government that has been set up in accordance with a peace agreement mediated in January by France. President Gbagbo was joined by the leaders of Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo, as he welcomed the new ministers to his cabinet. He went around the room and shook hands with each of them, including the rebels.

The rebels had refused to attend three earlier gatherings of the council of ministers, saying they feared for their safety. After consulting with Ghanaian President John Kufuor this week, they agreed to attend the meeting. They said they wanted to show their commitment to the peace accord.

Whether lasting peace will follow remains a question, as rebels went into the meeting saying not all of their concerns have been addressed.

On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Koffi Annan proposed the creation of a special U.N. mission to Ivory Coast. The mission would be in addition to the thousands of French and West African peacekeepers who are already in the country.

The conflict left the world's largest cocoa producer divided, with rebels controlling the north and west.

Reports have continued to emerge recently of fighting in the west, where Liberian mercenaries have been operating alongside the rebels.