- The Washington Times - Friday, March 7, 2003

Senegalese Foreign Minister Cheikh Tidiane Gadio, whose West African nation has played a key role in securing a cease-fire in Ivory Coast, says a broad-based government incorporating long-excluded ethnic groups is indispensable to a lasting peace there.

"There is little doubt that an inclusive government is needed to restore the hope that Ivory Coast can return to the prosperity that once made it the envy of much of Africa," Mr. Gadio said in an interview this week.

The Ivorian upheaval reached another fork in the road yesterday, with Ivorian government leaders and representatives of three rebel movements meeting in Accra, Ghana, at the invitation of Ghanaian President John Kufuor in a new bid to resolve the worst crisis in Ivory Coast's history.

Mr. Kufuor urged rebels and political leaders in Ivory Coast, Ghana's western neighbor, to bury their differences and form a unity government to end a ruinous five-month war.

"If nothing comes out of here, you will stand accused at the bar of history," Mr. Kufuor said during the talks.

The talks grouped Guillaume Soro, leader of the main rebel group, the Ivory Coast Patriotic Movement; officials from two insurgent movements based in the west; Prime Minister Seydou Diarra and opposition leader Alassane Ouattara.

Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo was in Accra as chief guest for the country's national-day celebrations in the morning, but was not part of the parleys.

At issue is whether rebels would relinquish some of the government posts they were awarded in return for agreement to a cease-fire and a peace plan that have since been accused of being too generous to the rebels.

The Ghanaian leader extended the invitation in his capacity as the chairman of ECOWAS, the Economic Community of West African States, one of Africa's premier regional blocs.

The Senegalese diplomat said his country's success in securing a cease-fire in Ivory Coast is the fruit of Senegal's continuing involvement in African conflict resolution, as well as active involvement in peacekeeping missions of the United Nations.

In April, under the leadership of President Abdoulaye Wade, a peace agreement signed in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, ended four months of tortuous wrangling to determine the winner of Madagascar's presidential election.

Under the accord, sitting Madagascan President Didier Ratsiraka stepped aside and turned the office over to his rival, Marc Ravalomanana.

Senegal, a leading advocate of democracy and free-market economics as the best way to achieve economic development in Africa, participates in the U.S. "Digital Freedom Initiative," a $6.5 million program designed to enhance use of computers in the Third World.

Mr. Gadio was in Washington to participate in a conference on key issues posed by the expansion of technology worldwide.

"Africans have no choice but to join the globalization challenge," he said. "And this requires a peaceful democratic political system in which the people feel that they have a stake."

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