(AFP) – Oct 11, 2008
BOUAKE, Ivory Coast (AFP) — Ivory Coast's former rebel New Forces movement which controls the country's northern regions on Saturday suggested postponing upcoming presidential elections.
"We recommend that the elections be delayed," Andre Ouattara Deha, chief of staff of New Forces leader Guillaume Soro, said after a meeting on the Ouagadougou peace agreement it signed with President Laurent Gbagbo in March last year.
The proposal was part of a package of recommendations read out by Ouattara Deha at the end of the meeting. He did not mention a new date.
The presidential elections, expected since Gbagbo's mandate ran out in October 2005, have been put off several times because of the political and military crisis after a failed coup attempt by the New Forces in September 2002.
The movement said a postponement was justified due to a slowdown in the distribution of identity cards linked to the vote and security fears.
How to regroup and disarm former combatants and the number of former rebels expected to join the national army and their rank were also controversial.
Gbagbo aides have repeatedly criticised the slow implementation of the peace accord with the former rebels and have called for their comprehensive disarmament before the election set for November 30.
The preparations for the presidential elections are advancing very slowly and Gbagbo has said they may be delayed again until December 15. A number of observers have also said that the current time frame will be impossible to keep.
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