Monday, 24 November 2003

Abidjan (Fides Service)- “The fact that President Laurent Gbagbo and French Foreign minister Laurent de Villepin, met is positive in itself ” a local Church sources told Fides with regard to a meeting of the President of Ivory Coast and the French minister on 21 November in Libreville, capital of Gabon. “The results of meeting have not been disclosed, probably in the next few days we will be told the indications emerging from the encounter” the sources told Fides. “The meeting marks the end of months of political and diplomatic stall which threatened to throw the country back into the infernal circle of civil war. As long as the path of diplomacy remains open we can still hope that peace will prevail, especially after the verbal battle between army and rebels days ago which made us fear a return to the warring war”.
After meeting Villepin, President Gbagbo will now go to Gabon, Mali and Burkina Faso, to try to involve his neighbour countries in the peace process in Ivory Coast.
One of the most active mediators in the Ivory Coast crisis is the President of Gabon, Omar Bongo, who organised the meeting in Libreville. Another active mediator is the President of Ghana John Kufuor, also President West African Economic Community (ECOWAS/CEDEAO), who hosted two meetings which were, however, unsuccessful. Burkina Faso, a country which Ivory Coast has accused of supporting the New Force rebels, hosted talks between Prime Minister Seydou Diarra and rebel leader Guillaume Soro, received previously in Dakar by the President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade.
At talks in Ouagadougou the President of Burkina Faso Blaise Compaore, said that only the Ivorians can solve the problems of their country and he called on his hosts to put more effort into working for peace.
The national unity government created on the basis of an agreement signed in France earlier this year has met an impasse because ministers appointed by New Forces suspended their activity in the executive accusing President Gbagbo of sabotaging the agreement signed in France. New Force say Gbagbo has kept powers which should be handed over to the army. For his part the President says the government has not undertaken the disarmament foreseen by the same agreement. (L.M.) (Fides Service 24/11/2003 lines 34 words 434)