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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 September 2007, 00:58 GMT 01:58 UK
Ivory Coast ex-head in rare rally
Former Ivory Coast president, Henri Konan Bedie
Henri Konan Bedie is a bitter rival of President Laurent Gbagbo
Ivory Coast former President Henri Konan Bedie - who was deposed in a coup in 1999 - has held a rare political rally outside the capital.

He bitterly attacked the current Ivorian leader, Laurent Gbagbo, describing his administration as more hideous than colonialism.

The rally passed off peacefully, a sign of the thawing of the political climate, correspondents say.

But it is still not clear when twice-postponed elections will be held.

'Good faith'

In his speech, Mr Bedie announced a manifesto that included 17 key areas he intended to work on to develop Ivory Coast.

The country has been split by civil war for five years.

But the fighting has stopped, and a recent peace deal has improved the relationship between the New Forces rebels and their sworn enemy, Mr Gbagbo.

President Laurent Gbagbo
President Laurent Gbagbo has promised new elections

That has left opposition politicians like Mr Bedie on the outside looking in, the BBC's correspondent in Ivory Coast, James Copnall, says.

But the rally, and Mr Bedie's strong words, underline that he and other opposition leaders are preparing for a political fight, our correspondent says.

Last month, Mr Gbagbo promised fresh elections in a televised address on the eve of the country's independence day.

"We must get out of the political crisis through elections," he said.

"If we all act in good faith... we can organise the presidential election by the end of the year, by December 2007."


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