I.Coast government, opposition agree on regular talks
4/28/2012 11:00:00 PM -
GRAND-BASSAM, Ivory Coast (AFP) - The Ivory Coast government and opposition on Saturday agreed to launch a formal dialogue and meet four times a year to reconcile the country after last year's deadly crisis.
Authorities said that supporters of former president Laurent Gbagbo who were detained after his ouster could be freed, arrest warrants annulled and funds blocked by Ivorian courts unfrozen "on a case by case basis".
Gbagbo's party, the opposition Ivorian Popular Front (FPI), was initially reluctant to take part in the talks but finally sent a delegation led by former national reconciliation minister Sebastien Dano Djedje.
However it did not attend Saturday's meeting.
A final statement said the government and the opposition created a "permanent framework for dialogue" that would allow them to meet once every trimester to "consolidate peace and reconciliation".
The five-month crisis in Ivory Coast, ending with Gbagbo's arrest in April 2011, claimed some 3,000 lives.
Prime Minister Jeannot Kouadio Ahoussou, accompanied by several ministers, had met a delegation of Gbagbo supporters at Grand-Bassam, a seaside resort near the economic capital Abidjan, for the political dialogue on Friday.
"The serious crisis that plunged Ivory Coast into mourning ... was a crisis of dialogue and trust between Ivorians" and within the political class, he had told the meeting.
Ahoussou, who took office in March, urged a return to dialogue to seek ways to "build the future (as) brothers and sisters condemned to live together."
"We are the ones asking for republican dialogue," he told reporters. "We are the ones who suffered the worst difficulties (and who) have a lot to ask."
President Alassane Ouattara met in September 2011 with representatives of the Gbagbo camp but the talks broke down.
The FPI boycotted legislative elections in December, protesting Gbagbo's detention at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he faces charges of crimes against humanity.