UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
COTE D IVOIRE: Rebels lay out peace proposals in letter to UN chief
ABIDJAN, 12 Oct 2005 (IRIN) - In a letter sent to UN chief Kofi Annan on Wednesday, Cote d’Ivoire’s rebels say it should fall to them, not President Laurent Gbagbo, to select a new prime minister to steer the war-torn country towards delayed elections.
“In a few days time, when [Gbabgo] is no longer an elected president … the New Forces should have the right to select the new Prime Minister,” wrote New Forces rebel leader Guillaume Soro in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by IRIN.
The letter comes on the eve of crucial talks on Cote d’Ivoire by the United Nations Security Council in New York.
In the note, Soro strongly denounced last week’s African Union (AU) recommendation to the Security Council that Gbagbo remain in office beyond 30 October, the date when presidential elections marking the end of his five-year mandate were supposed to be held.
Both the AU and the UN have conceded that the election, which was to have climaxed the latest in a series of failed peace plans, cannot take place because neither the rebels nor pro-government militia have surrendered their weapons as scheduled.
Rebel leader Soro also rejected an AU proposal that Gbagbo select a new prime minister agreeable to all the signatories of the peace accords, who would be given greater powers to reschedule delayed polls within 12 months.
Instead, the New Forces rebels want to name the next prime minister, who they say should take over all executive powers from Gbagbo at the end of the month.
“The only solution possible is that the new prime minister assume all executive responsibilities from the date of the 30 October when Laurent Gbagbo will no longer be the constitutionally elected president of Cote d’Ivoire,” wrote Soro.
The AU proposals to keep Gbagbo in office and name a new stronger prime minister will be up for discussion at the UN Security Council on Thursday. Also on the list of suggestions to avert chaos in Cote d’Ivoire is a possible increase in the current 6,000-strong UN peacekeeping mission in Cote d’Ivoire.
Soro, a student leader turned rebel front man, also denounced South Africa’s role as AU mediator of the latest peace proposals and said constitutional reforms would have to take place before more than 40,000 rebel fighters would begin to disarm.
The rebels want nationality laws, which they say exclude many people living in the north of Cote d’Ivoire from gaining citizenship, to be resolved before they will abide by a January 2003 peace deal and hand over their weapons.
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