- The President of Burkina Faso has been entrusted to mediate peace between the government of Côte d'Ivoire and ex-rebels. Burkinabe President Blaise Compaoré held separate talks with Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo and the Secretary General of Nouvelle Forces (FN) Guillaume Soro in Burkina Faso.
The meeting, according to a statement issued by the Burkinabe Presidency, was aimed at ending the four-year-old Ivorian crisis between the government and rebels, who control the northern part of the country and which President Gbagbo earlier claimed had been supported by Burkina Faso.
At a meeting in Abidjan on 18 January, Guillaume Soro was urged to participate in the direct dialogue between governments so as to put an end to the long crisis, which would be in line with upholding the UN Resolution 1721/2006.
Since the crisis broke out between the government and rebels in Côte d'Ivoire in September 2002, the Burkinabe President claims to have been doing everything possible to lure both parties to make lasting peace. The Ivorian government however often accused Burkina Faso of standing behind the rebels, at times even risking war between the two neighbours.
After the north-south civil war, West Africa's once pride country has been divided between Christian south and Muslim north. Despite a national unity government, which includes the northern ex-rebels, mutual distrust has so far made a real peace impossible.
The Côte d'Ivoire crisis has been a cause for concern within the international community. The issue formed part of the recent summit of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the Burkinabe capital Ouagadougou on 19 January. The summit endorsed direct dialogue between the government and ex-rebels.
Côte d'Ivoire, the number one producer of coca in the world and economic powerhouse of West Africa, has been badly affected by the war and civil unrest for years. This had taken toll on its economy and development in general, as rebels and the government failed to settle their scores in the interest of peace and development.
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