(AFP) – Jul 13, 2012
ABIDJAN — Ivory Coast's Prime Minister Jeannot Kouadio Ahoussou on Friday met with leaders of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), in a bid to kickstart a stalled reconciliation process.
The talks were the first between President Alassane Ouattara's government and the FPI since tensions rose sharply between the rival sides in June, halting the work of a Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
"It's a matter of seeing how we can create a framework with the government" for future talks, FPI member and former cabinet member Sebastien Dano Djedje said at the end of the two-hour meeting.
Ahoussou, accompanied notably by Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko, welcomed an FPI team led by the party's interim president, Sylvain Miaka Oureto. The government and the FPI each sent seven delegates to the meeting, an AFP correspondent said.
The talks come after attacks by armed gangs killed more than 20 people in southwest Ivory Coast in the first half of June, including seven peacekeepers from Niger serving in the UN mission in the country, ONUCI.
A few days later, the authorities announced that they had foiled a coup bid back in March.
Ouattara supporters blamed Gbagbo's backers for both incidents, but the charge was strongly denied by the FPI.
Gbagbo himself is currently in a cell of the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague, where he has been accused of murder, rape, persecution and "other inhuman acts" arising from a bloody crisis from December 2010 to April 2011.
The conflict broke out when he refused to accept that he had lost a presidential election to Ouattara.
The conflict claimed some 3,000 lives before Gbagbo was captured.
Several meetings between the former rival sides and the creation of the truth and reconciliation panel have done little to defuse tension in the cocoa-rich west African country.
For years, the country was divided between the south, which was loyal to Gbagbo, and the rebel north after a failed coup bid against Gbagbo in September 2002.
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