Abidjan (Fides Service) – “Small step political activity is producing results” Father Lionello Melchiorri SMA says referring to the news of the Government Council meeting on 22 May in Bouake, the main city in the hands of the rebel Patriotic Movement of Ivory Coast. “The meeting in itself is important because it signals to the whole country a will to maintain national unity and continue on the road to peace”. Previous Government Council meetings were held at cities under government control, Abidjan and Yamoussoukro.
The national unity Government Council meeting was presided by Prime Minister Diarra and it decided to grant an amnesty within the next ten days. However there remains the problem of the disarmament of the many different militia groups formed when the civil war started in September 2002. The rebels affirm that the army must also disarm; the government refuses on the grounds that a country cannot be deprived of its armed forces.
“Although at the political level dialogue advances, albeit amidst thousands of difficulties, there is still the problem in the west of Liberian mercenaries hired by both sides who have now escaped the control of those who engaged them” says Father Lionello. “These troops are mainly responsible for the situation of insecurity into which western Ivory Coast has been plunged. The problem of these mercenary troops which move from one country to another can only be solved at the regional level, involving, besides Ivory Coast, also Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Burkina Faso” concludes Father Lionello.
One positive sign at the regional level is the announcement of a meeting between military leaders of Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso to discuss re-opening of ways of communication, the blocking of which caused serious economic damage on both sides of the border. LM (Fides Service 23/5/2003 EM lines 28 Words: 341)