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A turning-point in peace talks, president and rebels agree
After five years, the Ivory Coast civil war may have arrived at a turning-point: last Sunday, the Ivory Coast president, Laurent Gbagbo, and the leader of the rebels of Forces Nouvelles (New Forces), Guilaume Soro, have reached agreement for the beginning of a peace program that within five weeks will have led to the formation of a new government and to the birth of a committee joined by the Armed Forces. This Sunday event could be the most important chance to put an end to the conflict that has now dragged on without a solution since 2002.

La stretta di mano tra Gbagbo e Soro The Accord.  It took all the diplomatic ability of the president of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaore, to bring home a positive result from the conference on Sunday in Ouagadougou. For the first time, the president and the rebel leader of the Ivory Coast met face to face to agree on a peace program that wasn’t sponsored by the international community but conceived and born right in the Ivory Coast: beyond a new government, the peace plan provides for the dismantling of the buffer zone that divides the North, controlled by the rebels, from the governmental South, with the consequent return home of the 11,000 men, between the blue helmets of the UN and the French of Operation Licorne, who are monitoring it.  Basically appealing, the plan provides for the resumption of the process of identification of the population,  preparatory to the organization of the presidential elections anticipated for October 2005 and put off for two consecutive years.

Reactions. If the international community is optimistic (France, above all), there is no lack of skeptics on the value of the accords: it would not in fact be the first time that the peace process for Ivory Coast, always presented as an epocal turning-point, disappointed expectations, revealing itself to be pieces of paper at the test of simple facts.  This is what happened hitherto with the accords of Marcoussis, sponsored by Paris, with those of Accra and with those of Pretoria, organized by the South African Thabo Mbeki and presented as “the African solution to the problems of the country” before running aground like the previous plans. The optimists point to the fact that, for the first time, two principal actors in the Ivory Coast crisis have committed themselves directly in order to find a solution to the question, while before they only submitted passively to peace plans presented by others. If  everything goes as planned, in a short while the rebels will be integrated into the army, putting an end to the split of the country in which the theatre of a guerrilla war lasted only a few months and was quickly transformed into an exhausting clash of diplomatic initiatives.

Gbagbo con il premier Banny The Future. The next weeks will better clear up the designs of Gbagbo and Soro, masters (the former above all) in getting around requests and sanctions imposed without much conviction by the international community to resolve the Ivory Coast stalemate. First of all, the trouble of the prime minister will need to be faced, seeing that the decision to form a new government sounds like an open lack of confidence in Charles Konan Banny, the prime minister nominated with the consensus of the international mediators but never tolerated by Gbagbo. Voices always stronger speak of a possible government headed by this same Soro, on the condition that Banny takes it in good part. In the contrary case, the umpteenth Ivory Coast turning-point could be revealed as only the last quagmire of an endless war.
Matteo Fagotto