Serious delay looms over Ivorian peace process

Abidjan- Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) -- Political analysts on have alarmed that the Ivorian peace process might experience a major setback if the Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration (DDR) of the former fighters were not held on schedule.
The army staffs of the Defence and Security Forces (FDS) and Armed Forces of the New Forces (FAFN) set the DDR schedule when they met on 14 May in Yamoussoukro.
"There will be a total drift if a solution is not found to the current deadlock by late June.
Time flies.
We are at a critical moment and people have to make urgent decisions," said a diplomat in Abidjan, who requested anonymity.
But Ivorians, who nevertheless share the diplomat's concern, expressed the belief that the crisis will end with the Pretoria agreement.
"We were hopeful when the political leaders returned from Pretoria with an agreement last April.
The agreement had been implemented and suddenly there was a deadlock, especially with the recent events in the west.
We are back to square one and I am as concerned as the Ivorians," said Blaise Yao Cedric, a bank executive in Abidjan.
At the military level, the first major results achieved after the Pretoria agreement was signed on 6 April, including the withdrawal of heavy artillery from the front line, resumption of quadripartite meetings between the FDS and FAFN, which led to the National DDR programme (PNDDR) for the former fighters, the first conference on the fight against the proliferation and unlawful circulation of light arms.
So, in compliance with the PNDDR provisions, cantonment of former fighters from the various forces that was expected to start on 8 June and end 26 June did not start before disarmament could begin 27 June.
"The situation bears on the tension, which has particularly increased among the Ivorian political actors since last Tuesday.
It is a fierce tension likely to undermine the disarmament process, which has not reached its full speed, if nothing is done," a journalist said in Abidjan.
People are increasingly worried, especially because of the statements made by the presidential side, namely the FPI parliamentary group, on the one had, and the G7 member parties, on the other hand.
The FPI, which attributes the massive killings in Duekoue to "the inability of the government of national reconciliation to fulfil its disarmament and reunification mission," demanded that Prime Minister Seydou Elimane Diarra steps down.
But Guillaume Soro and his troops say they will not disarm "unless the bills are passed by the deputies and approved by the president, in compliance with the letter and spirit of Linas- Marcoussis.
" At a news conference on Tuesday, the opposition (G7) denounced "institutionalised, planned and orchestrated insecurity, expressed by attacks and targeted political crimes, as well as state-backed terrorism maintained in the western part of the country.
" Facing all these statements likely to lead to the resumption of hostilities, observers propose that "the appropriate decisions be made to prevent the country from plunging into chaos.
" "It is important that President Thabo Mbeki gets personally involved in the revival of the process under the Pretoria agreement.

10 june 2005 13:48:00

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