Abidjan (Fides Service) – Railway services between Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso have been resumed. On Sunday 21 September the first train from Burkina Faso arrived in the Ivory Coast port city of Bobo Dioulasso.
“It was a letter from workers in both countries addressed to their respective Presidents which pushed the two governments to decide to reopen railway connections. In fact the workers were in danger of losing their jobs because there had been no trains for 12 months” said a missionary in Bouake north Ivory Coast, an area under the control of MPCI rebels (Patriotic Movement of Ivory Coast). The reconnecting of railway links came a few weeks after the frontiers were opened (see Fides 11 September 20030. “These latest developments are important, but unfortunately a perverse mechanism has been created: truck drivers have to pay a toll not only when crossing the border but every time they come to a road block between government and rebel controlled zones” the missionary said.
A year after the outbreak of the civil war in Ivory Cost, the situation is still difficult. Despite peace agreement signed in France on January, the country is still divided in two zones, one under government army control and the other under rebel military control. The national unity government which comprises also rebels stalled over the appointment of defence and interior ministers. In mid September President Laurent Gbagbo appointed as minister of Defence Rene Amani an independent politician and a friend of prime minister Seydou Diarra, and minister of the interior Martin Bleou, a human rights activist. But the MPCI failed to agree with the president’s choice. “On September 23 political and military MPCI leaders met to discuss a possible withdrawal of the national unity government and the suspension of disarmament of troops. If this happens Ivory Coast could be plunged back into civil war” Fides sources said. “The people are exasperated. Here in the north people have had no wages for 12 months, farmers have stopped farming because the rebels steal the produce”.
“In this situation, as believers we put our trust in the working of the Holy Spirit who sustains our hope. If we were to rely only on huamn strength we would have given way to desperation a long time ago” the missionary concludes. LM (Fides Service 23/9/2003 EM lines 36 Words: 461)