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Ivory Coast Rebels Postpone Cabinet Meeting - 2003-05-20


Security concerns have caused rebels in Ivory Coast to postpone a reconciliation-government Cabinet meeting in their stronghold.

The meeting of the national unity power-sharing government was to have taken place in the rebel-held city of Bouake, but it has been delayed until Thursday.

Rebels who call themselves the New Forces say they are working out arrangements with African and French peacekeepers to ensure the meeting takes place peacefully.

Previous meetings of the new government have been held in the commercial capital, Abidjan, or in the administrative capital, Yamoussoukro, both of which are government-held.

One of the rebel leaders organizing the meeting in Bouake, Amadou Kone, said he wants to be absolutely certain the meeting takes place without incident.

Mr. Kone said the meeting is important for political and economic reasons. Bouake is the main transit point between the government-held south and the north, which remains under rebel control.

Efforts are also being made to restore rail and highway links from south to north. This also concerns commercial traffic between Ivory Coast and neighboring countries Burkina Faso and Mali, which has been shut down since last year.

Youth groups opposed to the power-sharing agreement with the rebels say they will stage sit-ins Thursday at rail stations in Abidjan.