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On Brink of Chaos, Ivory Coast Sides Try to Save a Peace Deal

In a last attempt to salvage a peace pact that could save this onetime gem of West Africa from chaos, representatives of Ivory Coast’s government and the rebels who control half the country negotiated through this weekend to devise a face-saving compromise. Neither side would comment on what a compromise might entail. But the high-pitched bluster of recent weeks diminished over the past few days. International pressure intensified on President Laurent Gbagbo to seize the chance for peace. The rebels tempered their insistence on having two high cabinet posts. Optimists believe a new government of national reconciliation could be announced as early as this week. If not, renewed conflict appears imminent and will potentially be most dire if it reaches south to this heavily populated port city, the country’s commercial hub. For more than five months, this country, the world’s largest cocoa producer, has been split into a rebel-held zone in the north and a government-controlled area in the south — a fragile partitioning not likely to hold for long. The talks that took place in Paris today and on Friday were an effort to save the talks that took place a month ago in Marcoussis, outside Paris. The peace agreement worked out at that time had envisioned a power-sharing arrangement between Mr. Gbagbo and the rebels who have tried to unseat him since last September. Full Story

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