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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 March 2007, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Drogba calls for Ivorian peace
Didier Drogba
Drogba shows off his Footballer of the Year trophy in Abidjan

National captain Didier Drogba has made a visit to the Ivory Coast's separatist north and called on the country as a whole to unite in peace.

The muscular forward took his Caf African Footballer of the Year award to Bouake in the north to show to the people.

The West African nation has been split in two since a failed coup d'etat against President Laurent Gbagbo in 2002, with the northern half controlled by New Forces rebels and the south by Gbagbo's government.

Drogba was given a hero's welcome by New Forces general secretary and new Ivory Coast Prime Minister Guillaume Soro.

"I have come here to offer you a golden ball, it's the golden ball for the whole of the Ivory Coast," said Drogba from a podium on the famous Carnival Square.

"This is only the beginning. In June the whole Ivory Coast national team will be at Bouake for the match against Madagascar (in an African Nations Cup qualifier).

"3 June will be a memorable day: it will be the victory for Ivory Coast football, the victory of the Ivory Coast people and quite simply there will be peace."

Ivory Coast, who lead Group One of Nations Cup qualifying, play Madagascar on the weekend of 1-3 June.

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