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 Tuesday, 28 January, 2003, 22:53 GMT
Ivorian army torpedoes peace deal
Demonstrators outside the US embassy in Abidjan
The president's supporters blame France for the deal
Ivory Coast's army has rejected a key part of the peace agreement aimed at ending the country's four-month-old civil war.

We told [President Gbagbo] that the army does not agree with certain elements of the peace agreement

Jules Yao Yao
Army spokesman
The deal, signed in France on Saturday, stipulates that supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo should share power with rebels within a unity government.

But in a letter to the president, the army says it will not accept the rebels taking over the defence and interior ministries under the accord.

Mr Gbagbo has not yet addressed the nation to explain the deal - which sparked fresh violent protests on Tuesday.

Senior military officers met Mr Gbagbo to express their objections.

President Laurent Gbagbo
Gbagbo has played down the deal

"We told him officially that the army does not agree with certain elements of the peace agreement," army spokesman Jules Yao Yao said.

The BBC's Tom McKinley in Ivory Coast says the army's opposition puts the president in a seemingly impossible position.

On Saturday he agreed to share power with the rebels - but without the support of his army he cannot keep his word.

The French Government, for its part, again urged Mr Gbagbo to sell the agreement to those of his supporters who say too many concessions to the rebels have been made.

"It is up to President Gbagbo to explain to the extremists of his camp the spirit in which (the agreement) was made," French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said on Tuesday.

Extra troops

The president's supporters on Tuesday staged a fourth day of violent protest against the deal.

The commercial capital, Abidjan was mostly calm, but in Agboville, 80km (50 miles) to the north, an anti-French demonstration developed into a clash between armed members of the local Abbey ethnic group and Dioulas, a Muslim group from the north.

PEACE DEAL
President Gbagbo remains in power
Coalition interim government named
Non-partisan prime minister appointed
Government prepares fresh elections

The main rebel group is drawn from the Muslim north, while President Gbagbo's power base is in the Christian south.

Both churches and mosques were burnt in Agboville, and as many as 12 people are thought to have been killed.

The army says reinforcements have been sent and the situation is now under control.

In another sign of increasing tension, Air France announced on Tuesday that it was suspending all its flights to Abidjan and streamlining its staff there.

In the recent demonstrations, Mr Gbagbo's supporters have attacked French targets, including its embassy and a military base, and have asked the United States to intervene on their behalf.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Rob Parsons
"French nationals have been attacked"
  The BBC's Tom McKinley on Focus on Africa
"It is very difficult to pin down a figure on how many people have actually been killed"

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Analysis
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28 Jan 03 | Africa
27 Jan 03 | Africa
25 Jan 03 | Africa
25 Jan 03 | Africa
28 Jan 03 | Africa
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