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Thursday, 14 November, 2002, 12:09 GMT
Ivory Coast rebels reject peace plan
Ivory Coast government negotiator walks past rebels at talks
The two sides cannot agree on political issues
Ivory Coast rebel negotiators have rejected a draft peace plan aimed at ending their eight-week conflict with the government.

Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema, who is mediating the talks, drew up new proposals after meeting both sides earlier this week in the Togolese capital, Lome.


It calls on us to lay down our arms unconditionally. If we accept this we will find ourselves taken prisoner

Louis Dakoury-Tabley, Rebel negotiator
Rebels from the Ivory Coast Patriotic Movement, MPCI, say his plan favours the government.

Ivory Coast has been split in two since 19 September, with the MPCI in control of the north and the south still under the authority of President Laurent Gbagbo.

The rebels accuse Mr Gbagbo of discriminating against northern Muslims and demand his resignation and fresh elections.

The president denies the allegations and insists that he was democratically elected, so he refuses to step down.

He demands that the rebels must disarm.

Curfew extended

On Wednesday, the Ivorian Government extended the nightly curfew in the commercial capital, Abidjan, saying violent incidents in the city had increased since the start of the peace talks in Togo.

Ivorian Defence Minister Bertin Kadet said people are being executed in cold blood by armed mobs and others are under threat of kidnap.

Rebel soldier
Civilians are banned from wearing camouflage
The defence minister said the measure would allow security forces to be deployed to control the situation and prevent the talks from being undermined.

State television said the curfew would now start two hours earlier, at 1900 (local time and GMT).

The extension of the curfew coincides with a ban on the wearing of camouflage clothes by civilians.

Extortion

"This proposal has been drafted by the government, it is clear that we cannot accept it as it stands," rebel negotiator Louis Dakoury-Tabley said.

"It calls on us to lay down our arms unconditionally. If we accept this we will find ourselves taken prisoner."

His brother, Benoit, was killed last week in Abidjan, two days after he announced that he was leaving the ruling party to join the rebels.

This killing prompted the rebels to withdraw from the peace talks on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the United States has accused the government of Ivory Coast and the rebels of carrying out widespread human rights abuses.

A State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, said the Bush administration had intelligence relating to extra-judicial killings, harassment and extortion of citizens by both sides.

Hundreds of people have been killed and many thousands have fled their homes since the rebellion started.

Foreigners and those seen as opposition sympathisers have been attacked in government-held areas.

A BBC correspondent in Ivory Coast says even while attending the talks in Lome, both sides have been preparing for a possible outbreak of fighting.

A West African peacekeeping force is due to replace French troops which have deployed in a buffer zone between the opposing sides.


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