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Tuesday, 4 February, 2003, 14:44 GMT
Ivorian rebels stick to peace deal
Women demonstrating in Abidjan on Monday
After men, youths and women, the disabled march for Gbagbo
The status quo in Ivory Coast shows no sign of being resolved after the rebels denied they were prepared to renegotiate a controversial peace deal.

A rebel leader, Guillaume Soro, dismissed suggestions that the rebels might consider giving up the defence ministry portfolio.

There has never been any question of casting doubt on the settlement or renegotiating it

Guillaume Soro
MPCI rebel
Meanwhile, disabled supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo took to the streets of Abidjan, the commercial capital, on Tuesday, to express their opposition to the peace deal.

They are the latest group, after the army, five political parties, youths and women to reject the French-brokered deal which makes provision for power sharing with the rebels.

No going back

The rebels ruled out sacrificing the defence and interior ministries to salvage the ailing accord.

"There has never been any question of casting doubt on the settlement or renegotiating it," Guillaume Soro, of the rebel Ivory Coast Patriotic Movement (MPCI), said from the rebel stronghold of Bouake.

Guillaume Soro
Mr Soro has warned President Gbagbo to implement the deal

"The MPCI recalls that at the round table talks in Linas-Marcoussis and the summit of heads of state in Paris, seven ministries were allocated, including the defence and interior portfolios," he said.

There had been reports that the rebels might be prepared to accept having the post of junior defence minister.

But Mr Soro said that Mr Gbagbo had agreed to the make-up of a power-sharing government whilst in Paris and now, he said, the rebels were waiting for the implementation of that deal.

Despite accepting the peace accord over a week ago, Mr Gbagbo has hinted that he will reject it.

The army has also said that it will not serve under a rebel minister.

Parliamentary debate

Last week, under mounting pressure from thousands of protestors he referred to the deal as a list of proposals.

And the daily protests have continued to make their point.

On Tuesday, dozens of disabled people, some on crutches and in wheelchairs, slowly made their way through Abidjan's commercial district, shouting pro-Gbagbo slogans.

Blind protestors were aided by helpers, the French news agency AFP reported.

President Laurent Gbagbo
President Gbagbo has yet to implement the accord

The group carried placards saying the accord had "forgotten the disabled in Ivory Coast". It converged on the French embassy.

Now parliament is also discussing the peace accord.

The BBC's Tom McKinley in Abidjan says that given the stance of political parties, it is likely that the members of parliament will also declare the deal unworkable.

He says that despite the obvious opposition to the accord, the international community has continued to urge Mr Gbagbo to implement it.

The president has promised a national address on this issue, but our correspondent says that with mounting opposition from his closest allies, the country is expecting the worst, a return to the conflict that Paris all but resolved.


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