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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 September 2006, 07:32 GMT 08:32 UK
Ivorian cabinet quits over waste
A young man demonstrates about toxic waste dumped in Abidjan
Hundreds of people have protested in Abidjan
Ivory Coast Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny has dissolved his cabinet over a toxic waste scandal in Abidjan.

Three people have died and more than 1,500 have been treated after inhaling fumes from waste apparently dumped at sites in the city two weeks ago.

Mr Banny, who will remain in office, was asked by Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo to form a new cabinet at a meeting scheduled for Thursday.

It is unclear who dumped the waste but local papers are alleging corruption.

The BBC's James Copnall in Abidjan says the government's resignation is unprecedented and follows mounting anger at its failure to act more decisively.

Special fund

The government is a power-sharing administration, including rebels who control the north of the country.

Our correspondent says some feel that the decision to resign could be intended to deflect from the failure of Tuesday's summit of political leaders to break a deadlock in the peace process.

I'm feeling very bad in the throat and I have headaches and I cannot breathe properly
Abidjan resident

The out-going administration's last act was to set up a special fund to pay for the medical treatment for the victims of the toxic waste.

Foreign experts have been asked to help clear up the waste from seven locations around Ivory Coast's biggest city.

Hundreds of youths have set up roadblocks around the city to draw attention to the problem.

Ivorian television on Wednesday interrupted its regular programmes to urge hundreds of protesters to give doctors access to sites where toxic waste was dumped.

People look at a site where toxic waste was dumped in Abidjan

It said people faced serious health threats because of the toxic material.

The waste was dumped by a ship several weeks ago in unclear circumstances.

Trafigura Beheer BV, the company that chartered the ship Probo Koala, said it was very concerned by reports that "residue from the petrol cargo" had been disposed of inappropriately.

Those affected are being treated for stomach problems, nosebleeds and respiratory illnesses.

A senior aide to the prime minister told the BBC that Mr Konan Banny felt that people at the highest level should face the consequences.

Breathing problems

"I'm feeling very bad in the throat and I have headaches and I cannot breathe properly," Eric, a patient seeking treatment at Abidjan's university teaching hospital city, told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

The hospital has set up a specialist unit to deal with those suffering from similar symptoms.

"We don't know what we're treating. When they have stinging eyes or noses we give them drops. We want to know what it is so we know how to treat it," the manager of a local hospital told Reuters news agency.

He added the hospital was running low on some medicines and X-ray film.

In a statement, Trafigura Beheer BV said it told Ivorian authorities of the nature of the waste including "a written request that it should be safely disposed of, according to country laws".

"Trafigura can confirm that the residue (slops) were a mixture of gasoline, water and caustic washings," the statement continued.

Angry citizens take to the streets in Ivory Coast


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