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Last Updated: Thursday, 5 April 2007, 00:10 GMT 01:10 UK
Rebel leader becomes Ivorian PM
By James Copnall
BBC News, Abidjan

Guillaume Soro (L) and Charles Konan Banny
Mr Soro (L) and Mr Banny attended a handover in Abidjan
Rebel leader Guillaume Soro has formally been named the prime minister of Ivory Coast.

Mr Soro will form a new government charged with taking the country to free and fair elections within 10 months.

Ivory Coast has been in crisis since Mr Soro's rebels seized control of the north of the country in September 2002.

Until recently the rebel leader was the sworn enemy of President Laurent Gbagbo and it is unclear how much power Mr Soro will have.

Disarmament

During a short handover ceremony, Mr Soro received a symbolic handful of files from outgoing Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny.

The unresolved dossier was a reminder that Mr Banny had failed to achieve the task he was set - that of taking Ivory Coast to free and fair elections.

Now it is Mr Soro's turn. On the face of it he seems an unlikely candidate for the role.

For a start Mr Soro led the rebellion that still divides the country and thus created many of the problems he will now have to solve.

Mr Banny failed in large part because he never had the necessary authority to do the job.

Mr Soro will be expected to carry out disarmament of his and the loyalist forces and push through a controversial identification programme to give Ivorian documents to the millions who do not have them.

The ultimate goal is credible elections within 10 months but the polls have already been pushed back twice and most Ivorians are no more than cautiously optimistic.




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