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Last Updated:  Sunday, 23 February, 2003, 22:33 GMT
Ivorian rebels threaten new war
Loyalist soldier
Loyalist soldiers say the Paris deal gives the rebels too much power
One of Ivory Coast's three rebel groups has threatened to return to war if it is not given crucial posts in the government.

The head of the Ivorian Popular Movement of the Great West (Mpigo) said the defence and interior ministries had been allocated to the rebels under an accord signed in Paris in January.

"If they're taken away from us, we will tell the international community that civil war will break out," Felix Doh said.

We are ready to die... there will be no compromises
Rebel commander Felix Doh

The threat came as the Ivorian Prime Minister, Seydou Diarra, held talks in Paris with the leader of another, larger rebel group, the Ivory Coast Patriotic Movement (MPCI).

Mr Diarra arrived back in Abidjan on Sunday to brief President Laurent Gbagbo on the talks, which are reported to have ended without agreement.

Warning to MPCI

The issue of the cabinet posts has been 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.

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 deal, brokered by France, aims to end five months of fighting between government and rebel forces in which hundreds of people have lost their lives.

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

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 the ministries of defence and interior.

But the Mpigo - one of two western rebel groups - warned that if President Gbagbo "tries to move even one comma of the deal there will be war".

"We are ready to die," Felix Doh said.

"There will be no compromises, we have already made too many concessions."

He also had a warning for MPCI leader, Guillaume Soro, whose group controls northern Ivory Coast and who has been holding talks in Paris:

"There is nothing to negotiate and if Guillaume Soro gives way he can stay in Paris in exile."

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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