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Last Updated: Monday, 1 August 2005, 04:12 GMT 05:12 UK
Ivorian rebels refuse to disarm
By James Copnall
BBC News, Abidjan

Laurent Gbagbo
Mr Gbagbo passed some laws by decree to meet rebel demands
In Ivory Coast, the former rebels known as the New Forces have announced they are not ready to move to the next stage of a disarmament programme.

The New Forces say they will not disarm until promised legal reforms have been made to their satisfaction.

The pre-regrouping phase was due to have begun on Sunday as part of efforts to bring the country to peace.

Ivory Coast has been in crisis since the New Forces seized the north of the country nearly three years ago.

President Laurent Gbagbo made several legal reforms demanded by the New Forces by presidential decree on 15 July.

However, the New Forces say several of the new laws have been changed from the text agreed at the Pretoria summit in June.

They have called on the mediator in the Ivorian crisis - the South African president Thabo Mbeki - to arbitrate.

Elections looming

The head of the army loyal to President Gbagbo, General Philippe Mangou, said his side was ready for the next step in the disarmament programme.

When a disarmament deadline was missed last autumn, the loyalist army attacked the New Forces shortly afterwards.

There is little time remaining if the presidential elections due at the end of October are to be held on time.

Until the two warring parties disarm and the New Forces give up the territory they control, it will be impossible for the elections to take place.


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