- Title: IVORY COAST: Ivorians react after new government announced
- Date: 25th February 2010
- Summary: ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST (FEBRUARY 24, 2010) (REUTERS) ABIDJAN'S BUSINESS CENTRE TRAFFIC VARIOUS OF PEOPLE READING NEWSPAPERS
- Embargoed: 12th March 2010 12:00
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAAPEARSII8K7OOK0AN5S1FD96N
- Story Text: Ordinary Ivorians hope the country will return to calm and advance towards elections, after Ivory Coast announced a new government on Tuesday (February 23) which included both main opposition parties and the reinstatement of the Independent Electoral Commission.
The move is meant to put the country back on the path to elections.
The announcement followed days of demonstrations against President Laurent Gbagbo's decision on February 12 to dissolve the government and the electoral commission, which delayed a poll already years overdue and which had been loosely set for March.
Some local newspapers in Abidjan hailed the new government as a success while others saw it as unbalanced.
One Ivorian said he believed the government was only a symbolic move as its mandate is quite limited.
"This government can bring nothing to us, because we're almost at the end of the crisis. We are on the brink of elections, so this government doesn't change anything, it comes in just as a formality," said Abidjan businessman Hamad Camara.
Another saw the new government as a move towards calm.
"I'm very happy because the situation was very complicated, and we were in total confusion. So, I think that with the new government, things will calm down completely. Even though, of course, not everything has been sorted out yet, the prime minister himself said that. But, in a short while, the rest of the ministers will come in and we will be able to work so that the country advances," said economist Ricardo Zangon.
Many senior positions were occupied by the same people as before, with Charles Koffi Diby retaining the Finance Ministry, Dsir Assgnini Tagro the Interior Ministry, and Michel N'Guessan Amani the Defence Ministry.
Addressing journalists after the announcement, Prime Minister Guillaume Soro said opposition Ivory Coast Democratic Party (PDCI) of presidential candidate Henri Konan Bedie and the Rally of the Republicans (RDR) of candidate Alassane Ouattara had ministries in the government.
"I think nothing has changed yet, we've still got the same issues, the same people being nominated, the country is suffering. We wanted a proper change, honestly, we wanted a change," said Paul Titi, a security guard from Abidjan.
The opposition had initially said it wanted nothing to do with the new government.
Soro, a former rebel during the 2002-2003 civil war, said the government expected to announce a reconstituted electoral commission by Thursday (February 26), echoing comments by the main opposition coalition earlier on Tuesday.
Such a step is more important than reforming the government, which has been transitional since its mandate expired in 2005. Elections are seen as the only way of restoring legitimacy and ending the crisis in the Ivory Coast.
Public anger is growing after years of delays to the election. The military has opened fire on protesters, killing activists and raising tension further, although cocoa output in the world's biggest grower has remained largely unaffected.
People living in the cocoa district of Daloa, who saw two people killed and a dozen injured on Monday (February 22), are hopeful the recent moves will bring calm to the country.
"I'm very happy that we have a new government, very happy. Particularly us, the people who live so far away from this government, we already know that something will happen. We feel there will be reconciliation between us," said Daloa florist Alexandre Bah.
Ivory Coast's opposition parties vowed on Tuesday that protests, in which at least seven people have been killed, would continue until the commission was reinstated.
They softened the tone of previous days, saying they would accept a new president and four new vice-presidents at the electoral commission so long as the rest of the body remained intact.
That compromise was worked out on Monday in talks mediated by Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore, they said.
"It's a victory for the opposition, it's a victory for the opposition. As President Gbagbo said some time ago, nobody could face him. This time, the Ivorian opposition has shown him that he has competition in front of him. But the Ivorian opposition have shown it's civilised, "said Daloa shop keeper Mamadou Kone.
There were no reports of large-scale demonstrations on Wednesday and the commercial capital Abidjan was largely quiet.
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