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Last Updated:  Saturday, 22 February, 2003, 12:50 GMT
UN urges Ivorian peace
Rebel soldiers training in Ivory Coast
Rebels control the north and west
The United Nations Security Council has called on all sides in Ivory Coast's civil conflict to implement a power-sharing accord reached last month.

The deal, brokered by France, aims to end five months of fighting between government and rebel forces.

However it was bitterly criticised by many supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo, who said too much power was being given to rebels.

The UN also urged the Ivorian Prime Minister, Seydou Elimane Diarra, to continue efforts to establish a balanced and stable government under the agreement.

A UN fact-finding team is due to begin a 12-day mission to Ivory Coast on Saturday to assess how the world body may contribute to the peace process.

Renewed discussions

New talks to resurrect the deal have been held again in Paris on the sidelines of the Franco-African summit.

Rebels insist they were promised the key defence and interior ministry portfolios under the original French plan, but may now be prepared to compromise.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade - who has been in Paris for the summit - said rebels would make a concession on the two jobs in return for unspecified, equally "prestigious" posts.

IVORY COAST CONFLICT
Protesters confront police in Abidjan after death of a mullah this week
Hundreds killed
More than a million displaced
3,000 French peacekeepers
Nation divided in two
Power sharing deal still to work

The issue of the cabinet posts has proven a stumbling block since the outlines of a power-sharing scheme were agreed at talks in France in January to end the country's smouldering civil war.

Mr Wade said he had been sceptical of progress only recently but had noted there had been "an evolution of public opinion on the ground".

A rebel leader at the talks said there were hopes of reaching a final deal with the government this weekend.

Forces loyal to President Laurent Gbagbo have threatened to reignite the war if the defence and interior posts go to the rebels who largely control the north and west of the country.

The Ivorian army softened its hostility to the peace deal earlier in the week, saying it did not object to rebels joining the government, as long as they did not control those two ministries.

Fresh violence

Tension has been high in Ivory Coast this week with the army reporting heavy fighting around the central, sugar-growing town of Zuenoula.

It said it had killed 22 rebels in response to attacks which left an undisclosed number of villagers dead.

The rebels denied involvement in the violence and accused the army of trying to "frame" them.

Ethnic and religious tension continues in the main city, Abidjan, where two people died in clashes on Thursday after a Muslim cleric was killed during a house-to-search search for rebels, whose power base is among the country's minority Muslim community.

Ivory Coast has been split in two for five months by a conflict which has claimed hundreds of lives and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes.



LINKS TO MORE AFRICA STORIES


 

SEE ALSO:
Ivorian rebels 'back down'
21 Feb 03 |  Africa
Profile: Seydou Elimane Diarra
25 Jan 03 |  Africa
Country profile: Ivory Coast
21 Nov 02 |  Country profiles


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