Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire: Political forces head for Paris

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ABIDJAN, 14 January (IRIN) - Delegations, representing Cote d'Ivoire's government, major political parties and the three rebel groups, are expected in the French capital Paris to begin to solve the four month-old crisis.
The Paris round-table meeting is scheduled to open on Wednesday and run for the next 10 days, the French Foreign Ministry said on Monday in Paris. The meeting, under the auspices of the French government, the United Nations, the West African regional economic organisation - ECOWAS- and La Francophonie, is meant to be a forum for the parties to discuss all issues and draft a comprehensive plan to solve the crisis which has displaced thousands of people, suffocated the national and regional economies and threatens the region's stability.

The ruling Front Populaire Ivoirien will be headed by prime Minister Pascal Affi N'guessan; former president Henri Konan Bedie would lead the PDCI's delegation, while the principal opposition figure, Alassane Ouattara, will lead his Rassemblement des Republicains. Other smaller parties, with seats in the national assembly, are also expected in France, the national media reported on Tuesday.

The three rebel groups, the Mouvement Patriotique de Cote d'Ivoire (MPCI), the Mouvement pour la Justice et la Paix (MJP) and the Mouvement Populaire Ivoirien pour le Grand-Ouest (MPIGO) are also expected. The latter two signed on Monday a ceasefire agreement with the government and confirmed their participation at the round-table, considered in some circles to be France's last ditch efforts.

In its briefing on Monday, the French foreign ministry said the meeting would take place in closed door sessions. This meeting is expected to be followed by a summit of West African heads of state.

Several organsiations, including the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Federation of Human Rights League, have expessed support for the Paris process and urge the belligerants to find a solution to the crisis.

For IRIN coverage of the Ivorian crisis please go to http://www.irinnews.org/frontpage.asp?SelectRegion=West_Africa&SelectCountry=Cote_d_Ivoire

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