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Ivory Coast Government Pledges Reconciliation

Scott Stearns | Dakar June 06, 2011

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara's new government starts its first full week of work with ministers taking a census of federal workers and an inventory of equipment.

Former rebel leader Guillaume Soro continues as prime minister - a post he held in the Ouattara government named after November's disputed election and in the coalition government in place before that vote under former President Laurent Gbagbo.

Soro says the new, 36-member cabinet is committed to reuniting the country.

Soro says the new cabinet is asking Ivorians to stay calm. He says it is a very good team of ministers who are ready to work toward reconciling and rebuilding the country to bring peace to everyone. The prime minister says that is how the government can relaunch the economy and its development.

There are 14 ministers from President Ouattara's party but none from former President Gbagbo's party, who demanded Mr. Gbagbo's release as one of their conditions for taking part in the new government.

Mr. Gbagbo remains under house arrest at a presidential palace near the border with Burkina Faso following his April 11 capture by Ouattara forces in Abidjan.

Mr. Gbagbo had refused to recognize electoral commission results that showed Mr. Ouattara winning the presidential run-off poll. With the army's support, he defied international pressure to step down as members of his party's youth wing attacked Ouattara supporters and West African immigrants from countries thought sympathetic to Mr. Ouattara.

Ivorian and international investigators are now looking into those human rights abuses as well as attacks carried out by pro-Ouattara forces near the border with Liberia.

The absence of Gbagbo allies in the new cabinet will make it harder for President Ouattara to rally popular support. More than 45 percent of voters cast ballots for Mr. Gbagbo.

The pro-Gbagbo Popular Ivorian Front says it will play its role as the opposition party in the national assembly and focus on legislative elections due by the end of the year.

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