Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire: Consensus prime minister sworn in

ABIDJAN, 11 March (IRIN) - More than a month after his nomination in Paris by Ivorian political parties and rebel groups, Prime Minister Seydou Elimane Diarra was officially sworn in on Monday in Cote d'Ivoire's economic capital, Abidjan.
Diarra was nominated by "consensus" at a roundtable meeting in Linas-Marcoussis, Paris, in January, at which representatives of the ruling party, opposition and insurgents agreed to form a government of national reconciliation. He replaces Pascal Affi N'guessan who had been premier since October 2000.

Diarra's swearing-in came on the heels of a weekend meeting in Accra, Ghana, attended by representatives of the signatories to the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement.

The allocation of cabinet posts was a major stumbling block for the implementation of the agreement. At issue was the attribution of the ministries of defence and interior. The rebel Patriotic Movement of Cote d'Ivoire (MPCI) claimed the two posts by virtue of an oral agreement which it said, had been reached with President Laurent Gbagbo. However, Gbagbo denied any such deal. For weeks, the two sides stuck to their positions, virtually blocking Diarra from nominating the new government. A breakthrough occurred in Accra when the MPCI agreed to give up the two posts in exchange for other ministries.

According to media sources, the new government, which is to comprise 41 ministers, will be announced on Thursday in the Ivorian capital, Yamoussoukro, 260 km north of Abidjan.

The Follow-up Committee of the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement, chaired by UN Special Representative Albert Tevoedjre, met on Monday with Gbagbo, who assured the committee that "all that was done and achieved in Accra will be realised", the pro-government Fraternite-Matin reported. Tevoedjre was expected to travel to New York this week where he would present a report to the Security Council. In a press communique, the Follow-Up Committee announced that he would brief the Council about recent events in western Cote d'Ivoire, where many civilians have been killed during armed clashes.


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