Tuesday, 1 July 2003

Abidjan (Fides Service) “Let’s hope it is only a hitch in the process of peace” say local observers in Ivory Coast contacted by Fides Service with regard to the decision of rebels to suspend disarmament. United as Forces Nouvelles, the three rebel groups MPCI (Ivory Coast Patriotic Movement , MPIGO (Movement for Great West), MPJ (Movement for Justice and Peace), have declared a state of emergency in the areas under their control.
“The path to reconciliation is certainly long” say Fides sources adding: “With this move the rebels could exert pressure on the government to try to obtain more at the negotiating table. It is however true that the incident which triggered this reaction by the rebels was serious”. On Friday 27 June, Guillame Soro, national unity government minister of Communications and MPCI political secretary was attacked by a group of at least 100 people when he visited the national television studios. The minister was held in the TV studios’ infirmary for several hours.
“We are however hopeful” say Fides sources, “because the international community is pressing the parities in conflict to solve the crisis. A delegation from the UN Security Council has arrived and it comes to join a UN delegation of 150 experts already present charged with assisting the national unity government with disarmament and preparations for new elections”.
“This crisis comes paradoxically just when in west Ivory Coast, the region of greatest instability, government and rebels were collaborating to restore peace, particularly by disarming armed groups coming across from neighbouring Liberia to attack and harass the local people. In the west parish priests and missionaries, facilitated by the cease fire which has held for the last two months, are working to reopen church structures damaged or destroyed in the acute stages of the war” say Fides sources.
“The Liberian crisis and crisis in Ivory Coast are ever more closely connected” say Fides sources, “if only due the flow of refugees coming from Liberia to settle in Ivory Coast. Unfortunately attacks by Liberian bandits on Ivory Coast civilians put Liberian refugees in a bad light ”. LM (Fides Service 1/7/2003 EM lines 33 Words: 392)