Gbagbo promises adoption of Marcoussis-related bills

Addis Ababa- Ethiopia (PANA) -- Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo promised here Tuesday to ensure that parliament adopts all the bills envisaged under the Linas-Marcoussis agreement by 31 July if possible, a diplomatic source told PANA here Wednesday.
Addressing African leaders at a mini-summit devoted to the crisis in his country, Gbagbo said he would convene an extraordinary parliamentary session as soon as possible in case these bills are not adopted by the said date.
Gbagbo's made the promise, which has raised eyebrows at the ongoing African Union summit, at the end of lengthy discussions that lasted about two hours on the Ivorian crisis.
According to the diplomatic source, the involvement of Gabonese President Omar Bongo Ondimba in the mini-summit was decisive in the decision by his Ivorian counterpart.
Hitherto, the Ivorian president has not clearly indicated whether he would allow MPs from his ruling Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) to pass certain sensitive bills envisaged under the Linas-Marcoussis agreement.
These are the nationality and land tenure code, reforms in the Independent Election Commission (CEI) and the amendment of article 35 of the Constitution on the conditions of eligibility to stand for the presidency.
Gbagbo's supporters, including the Speaker of Parliament Mamadou Koulibally are openly against the Linas-Marcoussis agreement.
In a recent statement, Koulibaly said that fighting was the only way to pull Cote d'Ivoire out of the current crisis.
In his address to the nation 8 June, Gbagbo stressed the urgent for parliament to pass the said bills.
However, certain among his supporters, especially the "Young Patriots" are quite hostile towards them.
They recently stormed the House and asked the MPs not to pass the bills.
Gbagbo has not issued any instructions on how IFP MPs should vote.
IFP legislators who constitute a majority in the house are expected to be joined by about 12 MPs from the former ruling Democratic Party of Cote d'Ivoire (PDCI).
In his recent speech, Gbagbo, who always refers to the constitution whenever he realises he could lose his prerogatives by applying Marcoussis, stressed the important role of Ivorian MPs in this aspect.
"If certain signatory believe the spirit and letter of the Marcoussis agreement is violated after the adoption of these bills by MPs, we shall review them at cabinet level and re-submit them to parliament," Gbagbo had said, reiterating that he does not want to interfere with the legislature or judiciary.
In view of this statement, one wonders about the sincerity of the promise Gbagbo made to his African counterparts and the UN secretary general to ensure that Ivorian parliament adopts all the bills envisaged under the Linas-Marcoussis accord.
It is justifiable to raise questions because the FPI's parliamentary group headed by the Ivorian First Lady, Mrs Simone Gbagbo appears to be determined to water down the original clauses of the agreement.
The same parliament recently adopted a bill establishing the National Human Rights Commission, but took the precaution of excluding all representatives from former rebel groups (New Forces) was included.

07 july 2004 14:07:00

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