Ivorian officials, rebels continue talks in Lome

Lome- Togo (PANA) -- Ivorian government officials and rebels began a second round of talks in Lome Wednesday afternoon following the first meeting presided over by Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema, the co-ordinator of the ECOWAS contact group on the Ivorian crisis.
According to sources close to Eyadema's office, the two delegations outlined their positions during the first meeting.
The 16-member Ivorian government delegation, led by Social and Economic Council (CES) Chair Laurent Dona-Fologo, was said to have restated President Laurent Gbagbo's demand that the mutineers lay down their arms before any negotiations.
For their part, the seven-member delegation of the Patriotic Movement of Cote d'Ivoire (MPCI) led by Secretary General Guillaume Soro, rejected the precondition and instead presented a six-point demand.
These include an end to the "acts of violence," which the rebels said were being perpetrated by some government soldiers based on ethnic consideration, and improved working conditions in the National Armed Forces of Cote d'Ivoire (FANCI).
The mutineers also demanded the establishment of three independent investigating committees to probe the killings of former junta leader, General Robert Guei, former Interior and Decentralisation Minister Emile Boga Doudou and former Minister Balla Keita.
They said they would only lay down their arms if ECOWAS could guarantee that "general, free and open" elections involving all the political interest groups, would be organised within a period to be mutually agreed upon.
ECOWAS Executive Secretary Mohamed Ibn Chambas is supervising the meeting between the two delegations, which are expected to meet with Eyadema for another round of decisive talks.
The Lome talks followed meetings Saturday in Abidjan by the ECOWAS Defence and Security Committee, which will deploy a 2,000- strong sub-regional peacekeeping force to Cote d'Ivoire within 15 days.
Three days earlier, the Ivorian capital hosted a summit of the six-nation ECOWAS contact group, which appointed Eyadema, the main mediator on the military uprising that erupted 19 September.

30 october 2002 20:44:00

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