Ivory Coast: May 1, 2004


Last July's peace deal is stalled. The government apparently is plotting to retake the northern part of the country from the rebels, and the rebels suspect this is the case and are preparing for it. The rebels are also bitter that the 4,000 French peacekeepers did nothing to stop the government troops from firing on demonstrators in the commercial capital (Abidjan) last month. It is thought that several hundred people were killed by government and police during April, as retaliation for the March 25 demonstrations against the government. There are only 1,300 West African peacekeepers in the country, although the force is to grow to 6,240 in the next few months. But the peacekeepers and French troops will operate as separate forces. French and UN diplomats are trying to get the government and rebel leaders to abide by  2003 peace deal, but are not having much success. The northern rebels, who are largely Moslem, are talking about seceding and forming a new country.


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