- Title: IVORY COAST/ UN : Ivorian foes accept U.N. peace plan, doubts remain.
- Date: 3rd November 2006
- Summary: IVORY COAST FLAG/ IVORIAN NATIONAL ANTHEM ON TV
- Embargoed: 18th November 2006 12:00
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVACF58A7W4PUG2OR2V6ZT7OD4JU
- Story Text: Ivory Coast's president and rebels on Thursday (November 2) cautiously welcomed a U.N. resolution for a year-long transition to delayed elections, but diplomats warned the war-divided nation could struggle to meet the deadline.
Wednesday's U.N. Security Council resolution gave President Laurent Gbagbo a second and final 12-month extension to his mandate, and handed consensus Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny wider powers to reunite the country after a 2002/03 civil war.
The streets of the commercial capital Abidjan remained calm on Thursday (November 2) as Gbagbo, whose term had officially expired on Tuesday, hailed the extension as a "beautiful victory" for Ivory Coast, saying it broadly respected the country's constitution.
"All (points) ... which constitute violations of the constitution of the Republic of Ivory Coast will not be applied," Gbagbo told state television, in what appeared to be a challenge to Banny's new authority to legislate by decree.
His remarks raised the prospect of a return to deadlock in a crisis characterised by endless squabbling.
Rebels controlling the north of the world's top cocoa grower, meanwhile, hailed the resolution for addressing some key grievances on military reform and identification issues.
"The New Forces commits to the process of transition," the rebels said in a statement. "The New Forces will continue the fight to obtain free, democratic and transparent elections."
But diplomats fear a tug of war between Gbagbo and Banny, with the president likely to deny the premier the sweeping new powers he enjoys on paper because they are not provided for by the constitution.
Under the U.N. resolution, Banny, a banker widely seen as politically neutral, can decree laws without the need to consult Gbagbo and holds the "necessary authority" over the armed forces to implement the peace plan.
Considerable obstacles remained to disarming the combatants and pushing ahead with the identification of tens of thousands of people without papers, diplomats said.
The U.N. High Representative for Elections in Ivory Coast, Gerard Stoudmann, told reporters the identification process would be lengthy, indicating the one-year timeframe was tight.
Identity -- determining who is a pure "Ivorian" -- has been one of the most sensitive issues in the conflict.
The rebels say Ivory Coast's mainly Muslim northerners are treated as foreigners in their own country and that thousands have had their ID papers torn up during spot checks by security forces from the Christian or animist south.
Gbagbo's allies denounced a scheme this year to provide identity documents to some 3.5 million people as a ploy to fraudulently swell the voting register devised by Justice Minister Mamadou Kone, a rebel in the U.N.-backed transitional administration.
More than 11,000 U.N. and French peacekeepers patrol a fragile ceasefire line that separates the rebel-held north from the government-controlled south.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2011. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: Audio restrictions: This clip's Audio includes copyrighted material. User is responsible for obtaining additional clearances before publishing the audio contained in this clip.