Ivory Coast deal raises peace hopes

Gbagbo and Soro agree to appoint new transitional government within five weeks.

    The accord signed between Soro and Gbagbo aims to dismantle a UN-manned buffer zone [AFP]

    The accord, which came after a series of foreign-backed deals had failed, aims to create a new transitional government by April 8.

     

    "In the villages, they say when you give your child to the sorcerer, he can no longer kill him. Soro can no longer rebel against Gbagbo."

    Paul N'Zi, Yopougon worker

    The new government will replace the UN-backed administration of Charles Konan Banny, the former prime minister.

     

    Discussions were underway to determine the composition of the cabinet, presidential officials said. Soro said he would address the nation in the coming days.

     

    The peace process has already led to the creation of a joint army command to demobilise anti-government fighters.

     

    The accord, signed with the mediation of Blaise Compaore, Burkino Faso's president, on March 4 in Ouagadougou, targets the dismantling of a UN-manned buffer zone between the two warring factions.

     

    The accord also aims at a full withdrawal of French troops.

     

    Relief

     

    Soro's appointment was welcomed on the streets of Ivory Coast's commercial capital Abidjan, where five years of discord have disrupted the once-thriving economic life of Francophone, West Africa's most prosperous city.

     

    "I am very happy. I think the crisis will end with Soro's nomination as prime minister," said Paul N'Zi, a worker in the Yopougon industrial estate.

     

    "In the villages, they say when you give your child to the sorcerer, he can no longer kill him. Soro can no longer rebel against Gbagbo."

     

    By accepting the premiership, Soro has effectively ruled himself out of contesting the presidential election in 10 months under the terms of a series of UN-backed peace deals.

     

    Analysts regarded the alliance as a blow to the centre-right opposition led by former Alassane Ouattara, the former prime minister and Konan Bedie, the former president.

     

    Sebastian Spio-Garbrah, a Eurasia Group analyst, said: "The deal alters the political dynamics for anticipated elections later this year."

     

    "[The] embattled President Laurent Gbagbo may win re-election."

    SOURCE: Agencies


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