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Côte d'Ivoire reconciliation pact calls for monitoring group of UN and others

Côte d'Ivoire reconciliation pact calls for monitoring group of UN and others

The latest deal binding leaders of Côte d'Ivoire's political parties to implement a 2003 peace agreement, which ended bitter fighting, calls for the establishment of a monitoring group that would submit a progress report every two weeks to the United Nations, the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU).

The parties agreed to establish the tripartite monitoring mechanism and make fortnightly reports on progress as part of the so-called Accra III Agreement on Côte d'Ivoire, adopted at a summit of West African leaders last month in the capital of Ghana. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had called the meeting in a bid to break the deadlock in the country's peace process.

The pact, the text of which was published today at UN Headquarters in New York, emphasizes those clauses of the 2003 Linas-Marcoussis Agreement that became "obstacles" to consensus and implementation. In that regard the leaders made new pledges on such areas as eligibility for a presidential candidacy, the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration process (DDR) for rebel combatants, and delegation of some powers by the President to the Prime Minister "until the elections scheduled for October 2005."

The country is currently divided in two, with peacekeeping forces from the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (ONUCI) stationed between the opposition-held north and Government-controlled south.

The political struggle began with the elections of 2000, when prominent political leaders, including northerner Alassane Ouattara, were disqualified.

Mr. Ouattara, leader of the Rally of the Republicans (RDR) whose members won a majority in municipal elections, was eliminated over questions of nationality. In a court ruling, the present incumbent, President Laurent Gbagbo, leader of the Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) was given the victory over 1999 coup-maker Gen. Robert Gueï of the Union for Democracy and Peace in Côte d'Ivoire (UDPCI).

In 2002 there were two promising developments: Mr. Gbagbo formed a government of national unity and Mr. Ouattara was awarded a certificate of Ivorian nationality. On 19 September, however, soldiers said to have been recruited mainly during General Gueï's tenure staged a protest about job security. Government forces quickly regained control of the main city in the south, Abidjan, but Mr. Gueï, his family and some of his allies were killed and many migrants and refugees were chased out of the country.

Some rebel forces coalesced into the Patriotic Movement of Côte d'Ivoire (MPCI), led by former student leader Guillaume Soro, but soon two more anti-Gbagbo parties emerged, the Ivorian Popular Movement of the Great West (MPIGO) and the Movement for Justice and Peace (MJP), both claiming to want to avenge Mr. Gueï.

Mr. Ouattara, Mr. Soro and eight other Ivorian opposition leaders signed the Accra III Agreement late last month.