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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 September, 2003, 22:52 GMT 23:52 UK
Ivorian peace deal falters
Ivory Coast rebels
The rebels says their ministers have no power

Ivory Coast's former rebels are suspending their participation in a power-sharing government formed to end the civil war.

They accuse President Laurent Gbagbo of failing to stick to the peace agreement and warn that there is a possibility of new fighting breaking out.

The former rebels joined the power-sharing government in April under a settlement brokered by former colonial power France.

They said they would recall their ministers to their stronghold, the central city of Bouake and suspend their participation in a disarmament programme.

However, United Nations special representative to Ivory Coast Albert Tevoedjre says he will talk to all parties to try to save the peace process.

New Forces have done their best to implement this accord, but we have a president who is doing all he can to find artificial obstacles
Guillaume Soro
He says the former rebels have only suspended - not ended - their part in government, and he will try to make sure they are out for only hours or days.

The rebels, who now call themselves the New Forces, accuse the government of training up militias and reinforcing the army.

They say a return to war is possible and they are ready to defend themselves.

The BBC's Paul Welsh in Abidjan says that although both sides say they want to rebuild the country, there is little trust between them.

It is not just the rebels who are disillusioned, our correspondent adds - except for the president's party, the political groups who negotiated the peace deal feel it is not going well.

However, political opponents to President Gbagbo say suspending ministers now is too much too soon.


The rebels launched a campaign to overthrow Mr Gbagbo a year ago. Hundreds were killed in the initial uprising, and thousands more died in the violence that followed.

The conflict split the country into a mostly Christian and animist, government-held south, and a mainly Muslim, rebel-controlled north.

The nine rebel ministers made up almost a quarter of the power sharing government set up by a peace conference near Paris in January.

Rebel leader Guillaume Soro says Mr Gbagbo is acting without consulting them and refuses to allow them to appoint their own staff.

"New Forces have done their best to implement this accord, but we have a president who does not believe in the accord, and who is doing all he can to find artificial obstacles," Mr Soro told BBC Afrique.

For its part, the government accuses the former rebels, who control the north of Ivory Coast, of undermining peace efforts by refusing to hand in their weapons.

Government troops and armoured vehicles have been deployed outside official buildings in Abidjan.


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