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Last Updated: Sunday, 8 May, 2005, 05:21 GMT 06:21 UK
No deal in Ivory Coast arms talks
Prime Minister Seydou Diarra (l) shakes hands with rebel New Forces chief of staff colonel Soumaila Bakayoko (r)
The rebels and government say they are close to a deal
Representatives of the rebels and army in Ivory Coast have failed to reach agreement on a disarmament timetable after five days of talks.

But they did say they would meet again in the next few days.

Under a peace agreement mediated by South Africa in April, government forces and rebels who control the north were due to lay down arms this month.

Both sides began pulling back heavy weapons from the front-line last month, as part of the agreement.

The prime minister's representative, Alain Richard Donwahi, said the talks in Ivory Coast's capital, Yamoussoukro, had been positive.

A timetable would be presented to military chiefs from both sides next Friday for approval, he was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

Presidential poll

"I can tell you 90% of the work has been done," he said.

"Next week, we are going to take a day to validate the work done at this seminar. There are no problems."

At talks in April, the army and rebels agreed to consider a proposal for disarmament to start on 14 May.

Both sides said then that a definite date for disarmament would be decided at the talks that have just ended.

Recently, Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo agreed to allow his rivals to take part in presidential elections due in October.

It followed a suggestion from South African President Thabo Mbeki who brokered the April talks.

The crisis was triggered in November, when rebels pulled out of the cabinet after government forces attacked rebel-held towns, breaking a ceasefire.

Ivory Coast has been divided in two since late 2002, when the rebels from the mainly Muslim north launched an insurgency against the government dominated by Christian southerners. The rebels established control in northern Ivory Coast.


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