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Ivorian Leader Names Premier in First Step to Peace

January 26, 2003|From Associated Press

PARIS — Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo named a transitional prime minister Saturday, taking the first step toward implementing a peace plan aimed at ending a 4-month-old civil war.

Gbagbo appointed Seydou Diarra, a former prime minister who has chaired national reconciliation talks before, as his partner in a new power-sharing government.

Gbagbo said he had "taken note" of the peace agreement reached Friday by government and rebel leaders in Paris and would announce a new coalition government soon. The deal requires that the new government include opposition members.

Peace negotiations concluded Friday with a draft agreement to end the conflict. A weekend summit of 11 African leaders being held in Paris was aimed at providing a stamp of international legitimacy to the peace plan.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged international donors to follow through with pledges of aid. "Let us not betray the hopes of the Ivorian people," Annan said.

Meanwhile, thousands of people rallied Saturday in Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, to protest the French-brokered peace agreement. Claiming it gave too much to the rebels, protesters waved signs saying, "No to a negotiated coup d'etat."

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