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Talks fail to resolve election stand-off

[Cote d'Ivoire] New Forces rebel leader, Guillaume Soro. [Date picture taken: February 2006]
Rebel leader Guillaume Soro (IRIN)

A mini-summit of Cote d’Ivoire’s main political leaders ended in disagreement after participants failed to reach consensus on preparations for delayed elections aimed at restoring peace in the divided country.

“The Yamoussoukro summit has failed,” said spokesman for the New Forces rebels, Sidiki Konate, late on Tuesday. “We have asked the prime minister to make other proposals.”

Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny mediated the summit, which brought together New Forces leader Guillaume Soro, President Laurent Gbagbo and the two main political opposition leaders, Alassane Ouattara and Henri Konan Bedie, in the capital, Yamoussoukro, for six hours.

Banny said the meeting achieved “satisfying results” but no concrete measures were announced to unblock disagreements over delays in disarmament and Gbagbo’s announcement that Ivorian citizens would no longer receive permanent nationality papers under a national identification scheme.

Critics of that identification programme say Gbagbo’s opponents could fraudulently receive citizenship and vote against him in the country’s next presidential elections.

Cote d'Ivoire has been split in two since an attempt to topple Gbagbo failed in September 2002. Some 10,000 United Nations and French peacekeepers monitor a buffer zone between the rebel north and the government south. The conflict has displaced an estimated 750,000 people; three million receive humanitarian assistance.

When the UN General Assembly meets later this month in New York, African leaders are to discuss the progress made under UN resolution 1633, the blueprint for peace in Cote d'Ivoire. As Gbagbo’s mandate was set to expire in October last year, the UN resolution gave him another 12 months in office provided he worked alongside a newly appointed prime minister in charge of disarmament, identification and organising elections. Banny fills that role.

Banny said on Tuesday that the leadership of Cote d’Ivoire was not on the Yamoussoukro agenda.

With delays in disarmament and identification, UN officials have said the presidential and legislative polls, due in October, likely will have to be postponed again.

Gbagbo has said he will remain in power until elections are held. But, opponents to Gbagbo strongly oppose a further extension of his mandate after 31 October prompting concern that violence could erupt should his leadership continue.

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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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