Thursday, 13 November 2003

Abidjan (Fides Service) - Opinions differ in Ivory Coast with regard to the recent meeting of West African nations in Accra (Ghana) to promote peace in the country. The meeting was attended by the presidents of Ivory Coast, Benin, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Ghana and Togo. Fides sources contacted in Abidjan, say that the so called New Forces rebels (a name which groups various guerrilla movements in north and west Ivory Coast) are disappointed. They had hoped to see the other countries pressure Ivorian President Laurent Gbago to respect to peace agreement reached in France and signed by the government and the rebels in January this year. Whereas the President was happy to leave the meeting happy without being forced into any concrete commitment in this sense.
The only major decision adopted by the participants was to ask the United Nations to send peacekeepers to Ivory Coast. “France is also in favour on this point” Fides sources say. “In fact Paris finds it increasingly difficult to maintain its contingent of 4000 men in Ivory Coast and African countries with a total of 1,200 peace keeping troops say they lack adequate means. So everyone is in favour of a UN intervention ”.
For his part, United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has said the peace process in Ivory Coast “is in great difficulty and that the problems behind the present stall must be identified and solved urgently”.
The national unity government sanctioned by the January agreement is powerless since ministers appointed by the New Forces rebels suspended their participation in the executive for security reasons. “Precisely to solve this problem, the Accra meeting agreed to reinforce escorts for ministers representing the rebels with another 80 security officers ” say Fides sources.
In the meantime Romano Prodi President of the European Union arrived in Abidjan yesterday to talk with President Gbagbo. “The President of the European Union intends to give a push the peace process locked in a total impasse. Europe can offer economic and moral support to the peace process in Ivory Coast” say Fides sources.
“Interventions by the UN and the EU are all the more necessary in this dangerous situation of stall. People are discouraged and hopes for peace are giving way to resignation which could slip back into war. Ever present is the temptation to use force to solve problems, especially on the side of the government seen recently to be visibly rearming” Fides sources conclude. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 13/11/2003, lines 38 words 483)