Ivorian rebel movement calls for new political order

Abidjan- Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) -- Patriotic Movement of Cote d'Ivoire (MPCI) negotiators currently holding peace talks with government representative in Lome on Tuesday demanded for a "new political order" in their troubled country.
According to counter-proposals submitted by the political wing of rebel soldiers who mutinied on 19 September, deep-rooted political solutions were required to settle the Ivorian crisis and normalise the country's situation.
While the document was vague on the nature of the new political dispensation, the MPCI stated that the mutinous soldiers would only be disarmed after a comprehensive and final settlement of the crisis is reached.
However, the latest MPCI document does not insist on President Laurent Gbagbo's departure or the holding of early elections as major pre-condition but rather as mere demands.
The document submitted to Togo's President Gnassingbe Eyadema, the ECOWAS mediator, retained several other political demands, particularly the scrapping of the citizenship law, adoption of new laws on the identification of persons, as well as the liberalisation of state media organs and de-penalisation of media offences.
The MPCI negotiators proposed that the new authorities should definitely solve the land ownership issue by taking into account the rights of everyone and the organisation of a new general consultation like the National Reconciliation Forum, which the document described as a "failure".
Meanwhile, the MPCI document, which reaffirmed its "respect for the integrity of Cote d'Ivoire and its institutions", also contains most of the group demands on which it concluded an agreement was concluded with the government side on 31 October in the Togolese capital.
These include an amnesty and the reintegration of mutinous forces into the national army, improved military service, an end to the recruitment, utilisation, financing and training of mercenaries, and the evacuation of urban centres occupied by the MPCI and government forces.
The new MPCI document also reiterated other demands, notably on the violation of humanitarian and human rights.
It called for the release of civilian and military war prisoners, humanitarian assistance and child soldiers.
The MPCI proposed that the forthcoming leadership should pay special attention to children recruited during the hostilities, which started on 19 September.
Finally, the political wing of the rebellious soldiers pointed out that the new political dispensation will be created by the MPCI and the Ivorian government of Cote d'Ivoire, under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the international community.
The MPCI's counter-proposals came two weeks after the inter- Ivorian negotiations opened in Lome on 30 October.
The new proposals are in response to a 24-point draft peace agreement produced by Togolese and ECOWAS mediators for the Ivorian belligerents to sign.
MPCI negotiators rejected the draft, saying it did not take into account their political demands.
Cote d'Ivoire has virtually divided into two since the 19 September mutiny, with the rebels controlling about 40 percent of the territory from the central town of Bouake to the northern border.
What started as a mutiny by 750 soldiers protesting their impending demobilisation turned into a coup attempt.
More than 500 people have reportedly been killed and several hundreds other wounded, while over 200,000 people have been displaced.

20 november 2002 19:25:00

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