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UN Delegation in Ivory Coast to Help Restore Peace - 2003-07-01

A U.N. Security Council delegation is in Ivory Coast to help restore a stalled reconciliation process to end nine months of conflict.

Even though clashes have stopped across Ivory Coast, very little of a French-mediated power-sharing peace accord has been put in place. This has increased tensions in recent weeks, bringing fears of renewed fighting.

Rebel spokesman Louis Dacoury-Tabley said he is demanding security guarantees for rebel ministers from the Security Council delegation now in Abidjan.

Mr. Dacoury-Tabley warned that if security cannot be guaranteed, the rebel ministers will return to their bases in northern rebel-held territory.

The rebel leader turned communications minister, Guillaume Soro, says he escaped an assassination attempt Friday while visiting the headquarters of the state television. He is blaming the attempt on militants close to President Laurent Gbagbo. He is also accusing some lawmakers of inciting violence.

Friday's attack and the failure of the power-sharing government to name consensus ministers of defense and the interior have prompted rebel field commanders to halt their participation in a scheduled disarmament program.

Interim Security Minister Zemogo Fofana said the slow start of the disarmament process is what is angering pro-Gbagbo militants in the south.

Mr. Fofana said all Ivorians must understand it will take time to apply the peace process so that it is done right.

The U.N. peace envoy, Albert Tevoedjre, who arranged the meetings, says it is important to support those sincerely in favor of peace.

"We are all supporting the efforts which have been made," said Mr. Tevoedjre. "We are all supporting the difficulties that we are surmounting together. So I am sure the Security Council mission to Cote d'Ivoire will help all the advocates of peace all the advocates of real developments."

Mr. Tevoedjre has been criticized by all sides in the conflict. Rebels say he has not done enough to push forward the French-brokered peace deal. Lawmakers and militants close to President Gbagbo say he is trying to impose what they call a constitutional coup.

Some of the planned changes include making it easier for immigrants to become Ivorian, which would affect voting rights and could change political dynamics.