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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 December 2005, 10:00 GMT
Ivorian PM pledges reconciliation
Charles Konan Banny (file picture)
Konan Banny's predecessor said he would pray for the new PM
Ivory Coast's new prime minister, Charles Konan Banny, has said that his first task is to restore trust.

"I would like to be the catalyst for regaining the trust that we have missed so much," he said in Abidjan.

He is tasked with organising elections and disarming southern militias loyal to the president and rebels in control of the north before October next year.

African mediators hope Mr Konan Banny will be able to break the political deadlock with his reinforced powers.

I came to answer your call, to begin a true work of national reconciliation
Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny

After elections last October were postponed, the United Nations decided that President Laurent Gbagbo should remain in office for up to a year, but said a new prime minister with more powers should be named.

'Calling'

It took Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo and South African President Thabo Mbeki a month to name Mr Konan Banny.

He replaces Seydou Diarra and was previously the governor of the Central Bank of the West African States based in Dakar, Senegal.

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"I came to answer your call, the call of my Ivorian brothers and sisters... to begin, with them, a true work of national reconciliation. That will be based on trust," he said after his arrival home.

He said that the country - split in half since September 2002 - would not move towards peace if there was no mutual confidence.

The BBC's James Copnall in Abidjan says organising elections in a country as divided as Ivory Coast will be difficult.

But the UN says Mr Konan Banny will have all the necessary powers to carry out his mission.

On Monday night, the new prime minister met Mr Gbagbo, who did not have a good relationship with former Prime Minister Diarra.

Our correspondent says that as Mr Diarra offered his resignation and that of his cabinet, he told Mr Konan Banny that he would be praying for him.

The new prime minister is expected to name his new cabinet shortly.


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