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Friday, 18 October, 2002, 17:12 GMT 18:12 UK
Ivorian rebels sell truce deal
Ivory Coast rebel leaders
The deal came exactly four weeks into the rebellion
Rebel leaders in Ivory Coast are speaking to their troops, trying to persuade them that signing an end to hostilities with the government is in their best interests.

The BBC's Paul Welsh in rebel stronghold Bouake says the rebel leaders have a job on their hands after spending a month encouraging the rebels to fight.

The BBC's Joan Baxter told Focus on Africa that rebels in control of the northern stronghold of Korhogo had not been contacted about the ceasefire so far and had only heard about it on the radio.

On Thursday night, President Laurent Gbagbo told state television that he accepted the deal brokered by West African mediators.

Hundreds of people have been killed and many thousands forced to flee their homes as a result of four weeks of fighting, which has intensified ethnic tensions in West Africa's richest country.

France has agreed to Mr Gbagbo's request to establish a buffer zone between the rebels who control much of the north and southern-based government troops.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman said the precise nature of the French mission would be decided later, according to the French news agency, AFP.

France, the former colonial power in Ivory Coast, has about 1,000 troops stationed in the country to ensure the security of French and other foreign nationals.

Diplomatic triumph

Our correspondent says that the mood on Bouake's checkpoints is subdued; many would rather be marching on the main city Abidjan than negotiating with the government.

A rebel leader in the town of Vavoua, near the cocoa capital of Daloa, which changed hands twice this week has rejected the deal, according to AFP.

"For the moment, there is no ceasefire," said Sergeant Zacharias Kone.

Rebel Tuho Fozie with Senegalese mediator Cheikh Tidiane Gadio
The truce was a triumph for mediators

But Paul Welsh says that getting the rebels and the government to agree to stop fighting and begin talking has been a diplomatic triumph for the grouping of West African states, Ecowas.

The timetable for talks is now being laid out; West African presidents will now meet on Monday; on Tuesday observers will come in to make sure there is no fighting and then the two sides will finally sit down together for the first time to talk about finding a political solution to the rebellion.

Mr Gbagbo warned his troops to remain on a state of alert and maintain their positions.

"When we want peace, we have to prepare for war," he said.

Rebel 'brutality'

On Thursday night, a radio station was ransacked by a group of men in army uniforms.

Rebel fighters
Rank-and-file rebels are not convinced about laying down their weapons

Radio Nostalgie plays mostly French pop music but is owned by Hamed Bakayoko, who is close to opposition leader Alassane Ouattara and also owns Le Patriote newspaper, whose offices were wrecked on Wednesday.

Mr Ouattara and Mr Bakayoko are both northern Muslims, like many of the rebels.

Mr Gbagbo gets most of his support from Christian southerners.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Paul Welsh reports from Ivory Coast
"This conflict is not yet over...it's on pause"

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See also:

16 Oct 02 | Africa
16 Oct 02 | Business
13 Oct 02 | Africa
12 Oct 02 | Africa
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