(AFP) – Jun 30, 2008
ABIDJAN (AFP) — The peace process in the Ivory Coast is in jeopardy following an uprising of former rebel soldiers at the weekend, a senior official warned on Monday.
"This is a crisis situation for Ivory Coast," Alain Lobognon, an aide of Prime Minister Guillaume Soro told AFP. "The peace process is in danger because the prime minister does not have the means to implement his policies."
Ivory Coast, the world's top cocoa grower, was sliced in half after a September 2002 coup attempt against President Laurent Gbagbo.
After a peace accord, a new government was installed earlier this year with Gbagbo sharing power with former New Forces (FN) rebel chief Soro serving as his prime minister.
Under the deal, Soro's rebel soldiers were either to be demobilised or integrated into the regular army. Many former rebel soldiers complain, however, that the process is taking too long.
In a sign of the growing tensions, FN soldiers in the centre-west of the Ivory Coast staged a short-lived uprising at the weekend over the non-payment of demobilisation allowances.
After talks between the protesting soldiers and the former rebel leadership on Monday, FN spokesman Sidiki Konate said the mutineers would not be punished for their actions.
The soldiers "highlighted real problems. We are going to address these problems and pardon them," he said, putting the number of soldiers involved in Saturday's unrest in the towns of Seguela and Vavoua at about 110.
Lobognon, meanwhile, complained that Soro, who is charged with trying to find a way out of the crisis and arrange the disarmament of the rebels, "does not have the financial means to do so."
The aide blasted the international community, saying, "we keep waiting for aid that never comes."
The disarmament and integration of the estimated 36,000 former rebel fighters is due to be completed before long delayed presidential elections are held on November 30.
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