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Monday, 25 November, 2002, 10:15 GMT
Ghana denies backing Ivory Coast
Woman in Abidjan
Immigrants have been fleeing the country
Ghana's Foreign Minister Hackman Owusu Agyeman, has rejected allegations by Ivory Coast's rebels that President John Kuffuor has agreed to allow Ivorian troops to attack rebel positions from its territory.

Absolutely nothing of that nature has happened

Hackman Owusu Ajyemang
The rebels said at the weekend that President Kuffuor would also allow 70 to 100 Ghanaian soldiers to attack Ivorian rebels.

Ghana is a member of the contact group set up by the regional grouping, Ecowas, to try and solve the crisis in Ivory Coast.

Nearly a month of peace talks in Lome, Togo, have made little progress. Ivory Coast has been divided in two since a mutiny broke out two months ago, with French peacekeepers manning a line of control running across the country.


Mr Agyeman said he was angry at the allegations against his country.

"I have never heard a more outrageous statement than this one," he told the BBC's Network Africa programme.

"Indeed, I am angry because Ghana and its president have been at the forefront of trying to find a peaceful and lasting solution to the problem of Ivory Coast."

He denied Ivory Coast's President Laurent Gbagbo had approached Ghana for military assistance.

"There has been no request from President Gbagbo," he said.

"Absolutely nothing of that nature has happened."

"I cannot for the life of me understand why Mr Soro can make such a statement which is absolutely without foundation and completely against the grain of the personality of Mr Kuffuor and of Ghana as a peace-loving, stable democratic country."

'Dangerous game'

The secretary general of the rebel Patriotic Movement of Ivory Coast (MPCI), Guillaume Soro, accused Ghana of warmongering.

"We are wondering why John Kufuor plays a dangerous game by allowing Ivorian troops through Ghanaian territory in order to attack our position in Bouna," he told the BBC's French for Africa service.

Ghana's President John Kufuor
President Kufuor is know as the 'gentle giant'

"By doing so, Ghana violates one of the resolutions of the Ecowas summit meeting on 29 September."

"Mr Kuffuor, instead of encouraging war, should contribute to strengthening the negotiations taking place in Lome and to finding a political solution to the Ivorian crisis," he said.

Mr Soro said that his movement would continue to negotiate "in spite of these difficulties".

"Our forces on the ground are on maximum alert and the delegation which is taking part in negotiations in Lome has its eyes on our positions in Ivory Coast," he said.

No breakthrough

The Ivorian official leading the government delegation in Lome denied that any agreement had been reached with Ghana to fight the rebels.

"If we wanted to resume hostilities, we would not be in Lome," chief negotiator Laurent Dona-Fologo told the BBC's French service.

President Laurent Gbagbo
The rebels want President Gbagbo to step down

"It is out of the question - and it will be out of the question - to resume hostilities because the Ivorian Government does not want another drop of blood to be shed on our territory, there has been enough damage already."

Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema held a further meeting with representatives from the rebels and the government on Sunday to try to keep peace talks between the two sides on track.

Mr Eyadema has been acting as a mediator in the talks in the Togolese capital, Lome, which have failed to achieve a breakthrough after nearly a month.

Last week the rebels rejected a draft peace deal.

Ghana's Hackman Owusu Agyeman
"I have never heard a more outrageous statement"

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21 Nov 02 | Africa
18 Nov 02 | Africa
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