Ivory Coast's rebel leaders charged President Laurent Gbagbo with a violation of last year's peace accord, following his dismissal of three rebel and opposition ministers from the power-sharing government.
In a decree read on state television and radio late Wednesday, the president announced Guillaume Soro, the leader of the New Forces rebels who control the north of the country, was dismissed as communications minister.
Another member of the New Forces, Youssouf Somahoro, the technical education minister, and opposition party member Patrick Achi, filling the post of infrastructure minister, were also removed. All three were temporarily replaced by members of President Gbagbo's ruling party.
A spokesman for the New Forces, Sidiki Konate, says the decree violates the French-mediated peace accord, which ended the civil war and established the power sharing government.
?The decision Mr. Gbagbo took yesterday is not a serious decision,? he said. ?We do not recognize this decision. Mr. Gbagbo cannot throw away ministers of the New Forces. He cannot throw away the accord of Marcoussis and we will continue to fight this view to go to peace.?
The state-controlled media reported the decree was signed by President Gbagbo, but was based on proposals made by Prime Minister Seydou Diarra. However, the rebel leaders said they met with Mr. Diarra after the decree was issued and he denied any prior knowledge of the document.
A source from the president's office said permanent replacements for the dismissed ministers will be chosen from members of the rebel and opposition parties.
New Forces spokesman Mr. Konate said the peace process in Ivory Coast is at stake.
?The problem in Ivory Coast is very serious,? he said. ?It is not a problem of a car, a problem of money, a problem of home. It is a problem of the peace process.?
The French Embassy, in the commercial capital Abidjan, urged all sides to continue talking to each other to ensure the peace agreement, signed in January 2003 in Marcoussis, is implemented.