U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte is calling on Cote d'Ivoire's government and anti-government rebels to implement a peace accord.
Cote d'Ivoire was divided by a civil war in 2002 when the rebels, calling themselves the New Forces, took control of the northern half of the country. A peace agreement was signed in March of this year following talks between President Laurent Gbagbo and New Forces leader Guillaume Soro. The pact resulted in the formation of a coalition government in which Mr. Soro became prime minister. But since the agreement was signed, there has been little movement on key provisions such as disarmament, identification of undocumented Ivorians, reintegration of rebels into the national army and reunification.
Mr. Negroponte spoke after meeting with government and opposition leaders, United Nations officials, and representatives from civil society to try to move the process forward:
"I urged Ivorian leaders from across the spectrum to take the steps they know are necessary to implement the agreement and to work together to improve Cote d'Ivoire's prospects for the future. Implementation will require courage and willingness to move beyond disagreements that have kept Cote d'Ivoire divided."
Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte said following through with the agreement will be a complex task, but it must be done to improve Ivory Coast's social and economic prospects:
"The road ahead will be a difficult one - but it is not an impossible one. There will be difficult choices that only Ivorians can make and I encouraged your leaders to address these issues in as open a manner as possible so all points of view are heard."
Deputy Secretary of State Negroponte says he believes there is a desire on the part of all parties in Cote 'd'Ivoire to move toward peace and unity. "Once that has been accomplished," he said, "conditions for trade and investment will improve. And if the terms of the agreement are fulfilled and democratic elections take place in the near future, that will also create. . . .conditions for even more extensive collaboration between the United States and Cote d’Ivoire."