Laurent Gbagbo changed his environment and transport ministers, both of whom had come under heavy criticism after toxic waste was dumped around Abidjan, killing seven people and making thousands ill.

Gbagbo has said he remains the lawful leader of the country until elections take place but rebel and opposition sides have rejected any prolongation of his mandate.

 

Charles Konan Banny, the prime minister, retained his position, a spokesperson said on Saturday.

 

Toxic protest

 

Protesters on Friday dragged the former transport minister from his car and beat him up, and burned down the home of the director of Abidjan port as public anger boiled over after the poisonous black sludge was dumped around the city.

 

Ivorians demonstrate in
a popular area of Abidjan

Around 30,000 people have sought treatment at hospitals for vomiting, stomach pains, nausea, breathing difficulties, nosebleeds and migraines, health officials said.

 

Residents have accused the authorities of being slow to act and not giving enough information about the slops, unloaded at Abidjan last month by a Panamanian ship chartered by a leading world commodity trader, Dutch-based Trafigura Beheer BV.

 

The company has said it advised the Ivorian authorities that the slops needed to be disposed of correctly.