Ivorian leader unveils peace plan

Laurent Gbagbo rejects UN proposal and proposes new talks with rebels.

    Laurent Gbagbo says international efforts for peace in Ivory Coast have failed [AFP]

    The president said that international efforts have failed in the world's leading cocoa producer.
    "The objective of all of these propositions is to end the crisis through elections. I wish for elections to take place as quickly as possible," Gbagbo said.
    He also said that the long-delayed polls could take place by July, before a UN deadline. Gbagbo said he aimed to finish disarmament talks by the end of next month.
    The UN plan entrusted disarmament and the organisation of polls by the end of next October to an interim prime minister.
    Gbagbo has said he will not implement any aspect of the plan that limits his constitutional authority, and has clashed with Charles Konan Banny, the interim prime minister.
    The president said on Tuesday that the removal of the reconciliation government headed by Banny was something to be considered, but not in the immediate future.
    Gbagbo's constitutional five-year mandate expired in October last year, but he was kept in power under a UN-backed scheme after polls failed to take place. When a second deadline was missed in October, a UN plan gave Gbagbo a final 12-month extension.
    Gbagbo also proposed a youth training scheme to tackle unemployment, which has rocketed since the war, and said it would be open to rebel combatants.
    He pledged help for the war-displaced to return home, many in the rebel-held north, and offered an amnesty law for the New Forces rebels to replace a 2003 text which he said was now "obsolete".
    The last talks between Gbagbo, rebel leader Guillaume Soro and main opposition leaders in September, chaired by Denis Sassou N'Guesso, the African Union president, ended without agreement.
    Gbagbo's plan did not directly address the rebels' main concern. They demand identity papers before disarming but dispute the format of an ID scheme due to resume in the coming weeks.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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