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THE WORLD

Ivorian Rebels Reverse Course, Decide to Join Peace Talks in Paris

January 12, 2003|From Associated Press

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — A rebel group reversed its decision to pull out of peace talks set for this week in Paris, saying Saturday that its members would attend despite what it said were continuing government attacks.

Rebel Sgt. Felix Doh also said he would sign a cease-fire in advance of the talks.

Doh's Ivorian Popular Movement of the Far West offered no immediate explanation for its change of heart. The faction is one of two rebel movements in Ivory Coast's nearly 4-month-old war.

The western rebels, who burst into combat in recent weeks, never signed a cease-fire agreed to by northern-based rebels and the government in October.

French and West African mediators tried to organize a cease-fire signing ceremony for later Saturday in nearby Togo, but Doh said he could not take part then for health reasons. The date of the trip to Togo to sign the cease-fire would be chosen later, Doh said by satellite telephone.

Under French pressure, western rebels and the government agreed last week to suspend hostilities as a prelude to formally joining the cease-fire accord and peace talks. France has set the talks for Wednesday in Paris.

In an indication of easing tension, state television announced that the 7 p.m. start of a curfew -- as has been the case for the last two months -- was being changed to 9 p.m.

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