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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 26 February, 2003, 14:17 GMT
Ivorian cabinet takes shape
Rebel soldiers training in Ivory Coast
Rebels control the north and west

President Laurent Gbagbo is pushing ahead with his own plans for a new cabinet, despite rebel threats to resume fighting if their demands are ignored.

A new consensus cabinet, aimed at bring to an end a five-month partition of the country, is being presented to an international committee on Wednesday.

But it is reported to include non-political professionals in key cabinet posts, after Mr Gbagbo rejected proposals from new Prime Minister Seydou Diarra that would have given the main rebel group two senior ministries.

The Patriotic Movement of Ivory Coast (MPCI) said that Mr Gbagbo's actions were in flagrant violation of the Paris-brokered peace agreement and he was "playing with fire".

We cannot accept that Gbagbo violates the accord signed in Paris
Sidiki Konate
MPCI spokesman

Reuters news agency said Mr Gbagbo's list included at least four ministries for neutrals, 11 for his party, eight for the former ruling Democratic Party, seven for the main opposition RDR and seven for the MPCI.

But they quoted sources as saying Mr Gbagbo also wanted the army's influential chief of staff in the cabinet.

The RDR is also reported to be unhappy at being denied the justice ministry.

In a curt statement from their stronghold of Bouake, rebel spokesman Sidiki Konate said the president's move would create extreme tension.

Anger

Rebel military chiefs who last week threatened to march on Abidjan say their men are now ready to go.

IVORY COAST CONFLICT
Hundreds killed
More than a million displaced
3,000 French peacekeepers
Nation divided in two
Power sharing deal still to work

They insist that Mr Gbagbo promised them the interior and defence ministries in front of French President Jacques Chirac at a summit meeting in Paris after peace talks last month.

They say that if they do not get the ministries in charge of the army and police they will never agree to disarm or give up territory.

At the Marcoussis peace talks near Paris, political parties and rebel groups agreed they would share power in a coalition government.

They also agreed that a strong consensus prime minister would lead the new government into transparent presidential elections.

But since he was nominated a month ago, Mr Diarra has been struggling in vain to appoint a new government as Mr Gbagbo insisted on a final say.




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