Cote d'Ivoire: getting the peace process restarted
A regional summit, aimed at restarting the Ivorian peace process, is taking place today in Accra, Ghana. The summit is being co-chaired by Ghanaian President John Kufuor, the current chairman of ECOWAS1 ... and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The leaders of the ECOWAS member states are expected to attend, as is South African President Thabo Mbeki. Yet, despite this attention from the highest levels, many observers hold out little hope of success in these talks.
In March, the seven opposition groups (the G72) suspended their participation in the transitional government over the deaths of 120 of their supporters at a peace demonstration. They blamed the government's security forces for the deaths ... and a subsequent investigation authorized by the UN Human Rights Commission confirmed those allegations.
Then in May, Gbagbo kicked out three opposition ministers, including the leader of the New Forces, Guillaume Soro. He also announced that he would stop paying the salaries of 23 other ministers who had suspended their participation in the government ... and said he would be withdrawing their official cars and their right to stay in a hotel guarded by UN peacekeepers.
As dramatic as all this sounds, the peace process was in trouble way before the March and May events. President Gbago and the rebel groups signed the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement (full-text) back in January 2003 ... and almost immediately began bickering about how to implement it. Gbagbo and his supporters say the starting point is for rebels to disarm ... but the rebels want parliament to pass political reforms before they will disarm.
more on this later ....
1: ECOWAS = Economic Community of West African States.
The 15 member states are ... Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, GuineaBissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo.
2: G7 is a coalition of opposition parties and it brings together four political parties and three former rebel movements.
The political parties ...
The three rebel groups together are called the "New Forces" (Forces nouvelles) ...
President Laurent Gbagbo's party ...