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Monday, 3 February, 2003, 13:10 GMT
Ivory Coast women condemn French
Demonstrators in Abidjan on Monday
After men and youths, women march for Gbagbo
Thousands of women have surrounded the French embassy in the Ivory Coast commercial capital, Abidjan, angered by a French-brokered peace plan.

The women, dressed in the national colours of orange, green and white waved tree branches and shouted "Chirac, liar".

This is the latest demonstration by supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo, accusing the French of forcing him to share power with rebels.

Protesters burn the French flag
French nationals have been urged to leave Ivory coast
On Sunday, the rebels warned they would start fighting again if Mr Gbagbo failed to implement the deal immediately.

The most contentious part of the accord is the rebel claim that they were promised the defence and interior ministries, although this is not stipulated in the official text.

Former colonial power France, which has 2,500 troops monitoring a ceasefire, has urged President Gbagbo to respect the peace plan.

Following a wave of anti-French protests, the 16,000 French nationals were urged to leave Ivory Coast on Friday, unless their presence was "essential".

The president himself is yet to pronounce on the deal. But on Sunday, one of his aides said it was unacceptable to the Ivorian people and would have to be renegotiated.

The army has said it cannot serve a rebel minister.


Rebel leader Guillaume Soro warned that a ceasefire agreed ahead of the negotiations in France which led to the deal would be broken if Mr Gbagbo did not act soon.

"Right now, the international community must bring Laurent Gbagbo to book over the implementation of the accord, or fighting will resume," Mr Soro said.

President Laurent Gbagbo
Tensions are already simmering after a week of often-violent demonstrations since the deal was signed.

On Sunday, hundreds of opposition supporters took to the streets in the country's main city, Abidjan, following the killing of a well-known opposition activist.

The bullet-riddled body of Kamara Yerefe - a satirical actor - was found on Sunday morning in a street in Adjame district.

His family told the Associated Press news agency that he had been taken from his home by uniformed men for questioning on Saturday night. The police have refused to comment.

The killing prompted the first big demonstration by opposition supporters since the start of the civil war last September.

Demonstrators accused government agents of murdering Mr Yerefe, a member of the opposition Rally of Republicans party (RDR).

They hurled stones at police and set fire to at least two buses, according to reports.

Angry youths rampaged through the slums, burning tyres and setting up barricades.

Ethnic divisions

The RDR is so far the only political group to have officially backed the French peace deal.

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Those involved in Sunday's violence were mainly ethnic Dioula, a northern-based Muslim group which largely supports the RDR, AP said.

Southern Ivorians, who are predominantly Christian, have accused the northern Muslims of backing the rebels in the four-month conflict.

Opponents of the deal staged the largest protest since the conflict began on Saturday, with up to 100,000 people taking to the streets.

BBC's Tom McKinley reporting for Focus on Africa
"The crowd is a sea of orange, white and green chanting for Gbagbo."

Key stories

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See also:

02 Feb 03 | Africa
02 Feb 03 | Africa
02 Feb 03 | Africa
01 Feb 03 | Africa
31 Jan 03 | Africa
31 Jan 03 | Africa
31 Jan 03 | Africa
28 Jan 03 | Africa
25 Jan 03 | Africa
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