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Viewing cable 07ABIDJAN831, COTE D'IVOIRE LIGHTS FLAME OF PEACE

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ABIDJAN831 2007-08-09 17:05 2011-01-13 05:05 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Abidjan
VZCZCXRO6224
RR RUEHPA
DE RUEHAB #0831/01 2211723
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 091723Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABIDJAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3349
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHOU/AMEMBASSY OUAGADOUGOU 0289
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 ABIDJAN 000831 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR AF/W-EPLUMB AND INR/AA-BGRAVES 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/09/2017 
TAGS: PGOV KDEM IC
SUBJECT: COTE D'IVOIRE LIGHTS FLAME OF PEACE 
 
 
Classified By: CHARGE D'AFFAIRES VICKI HUDDLESTON FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) A 
ND (D). 
 
1. (C) Summary. The Government of Cote d'Ivoire held a July 
30 "flame of peace" symbolic disarmament ceremony in the 
Forces Nouvelles stronghold of Bouake.  While the ceremony 
was attended by 7 African heads of state or government, 
Ivorian opposition leaders Henri Konan Bedie, Alassane 
Ouattara and former Ivorian Prime Minister Charles Konan 
Banny did not attend.  Alain Lobognon, Communications 
Director for the Prime Minister, told Emboffs August 2 that 
the ceremony, which demonstrated that Cote d'Ivoire is no 
longer a divided nation, was a response by Prime Minister 
Soro to President Gbagbo's request to visit the north. 
Lobognon said the next step is the resumption of the 
"audiences foraines" identification tribunals.  Lobognon also 
stated that having Burkinabe troops come to Cote d'Ivoire was 
delayed because some in Burkina Faso mistakenly said they 
were coming to protect the Prime Minister rather than to 
assure the implementation of the Ouagadougou Political Accord 
(OPA).  UN Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) Chief of the 
Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration Unit Jean-Luc 
Stalon told Poloff August 6 that the government must now take 
concrete steps to effect disarmament.  Similarly, the 
spokesman for Bedie's party, (the Democratic Party of Cote 
d'Ivoire/Parti Democratique de Cote d'Ivoire - PDCI) Djedje 
Mady, told Poloffs August 3 that, while the declarations made 
at the ceremony stating that the war is over are positive, 
the government must take concrete steps to demonstrate that 
peace has returned. Mady was also critical of the 
international community for eliminating the position of UN 
High Representative for Elections. End Summary. 
 
2. (SBU) The Government of Cote d'Ivoire held a "flame of 
peace" symbolic disarmament ceremony July 30 in the Forces 
Nouvelles (FN) stronghold of Bouake. The ceremony, at which a 
token pile of weapons were burned, was attended by the 
Presidents of Burkina Faso, South Africa, Mali, Togo, Benin, 
and Guinea-Bissau and the Prime Minister of Niger.  However, 
it was not attended by Ivorian opposition leaders Henri Konan 
Bedie (Democratic Party of Cote d'Ivoire/Parti Democratique 
de Cote d'Ivoire -- PDCI) and Alassane Outtara (Republican 
Alliance/Rassemblement des Republicains -- RDR), and former 
Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny. The South African and 
Indian Ambassadors told Poloffs at an August 1 diplomatic 
reception that the stadium in Bouake was filled to capacity 
with about 20,000 persons and that several thousands followed 
the ceremony from outside the stadium. President Laurent 
Gbagbo, in remarks during the ceremony, proclaimed that war 
is ended and peace has arrived in Cote d'Ivoire.  Gbagbo 
praised Prime Minister Guillaume Soro for being willing to 
engage with him in the dialogue that led to the OPA and said 
that preparations to hold elections would immediately begin. 
Prime Minister Soro, in his speech, described Bouake as a 
"capital of peace" and told Gbagbo that Gbagbo bears the 
heavy responsibility of turning the peace that was being 
celebrated at Bouake into a lasting and true peace. Soro said 
the peace process is irreversible and Cote d'Ivoire is once 
again united, and encouraged internally displaced persons 
(IDPs) to return to their homes. 
 
3. (C) The Communications Director at the Prime Minister's 
Office, Alain Lobognon, told Emboffs August 2 that organizing 
the ceremony was a "challenge" for Soro and said it was the 
result of President's Gbagbo request to visit the north. 
According to Lobognon, the ceremony demonstrated that Cote 
d'Ivoire is no longer a divided country.  He said the next 
step is to implement the OPA by restarting the "audiences 
foraines" identification tribunals in August.  Lobognon said 
the issue of nomination of sub-Prefects is under discussion. 
Lobognon expressed regret that Bedie and Ouattara did not 
attend the ceremony, although they were invited, and noted 
that the decision to hold the ceremony was made at the 
council of leaders set up by the OPA, at which all political 
parties are represented. Lobognon said the scheduling of the 
ceremony accelerated the issue of having Burkinabe troops 
come to Cote d'Ivoire.  Lobognon asserted that the OPA calls 
for Burkinabe troops to come to Cote d'Ivoire to ensure that 
the peace process moves forward.  Lobognon told Poloffs that 
some officials in Burkina Faso stated publicly that 150 
paratroopers were coming to protect the Prime Minister.  The 
Prime Minister saw this as an affront to Cote d'Ivoire's 
capacity to protect its Prime Minister and decided to ask 
Burkina Faso President Blaise Compaore to postpone their 
arrival.  According to Lobognon, Burkinabe troops may come to 
Cote d'Ivoire, although a date has not yet been established 
and must be decided on by the Government of Burkina Faso. 
 
4. (C) Chief of UNOCI Disarmament, Demobilization, and 
Reintegration Unit Jean-Luc Stalon told Poloff August 6 that 
 
ABIDJAN 00000831  002 OF 002 
 
 
the ceremony was significant because it marked President 
Gbagbo's return to the north and demonstrated that Soro is in 
charge of the FN and that the FN will implement the OPA. 
Stalon noted that the ceremony was symbolic and not an 
exercise in disarmament.  According to Lobognon, while some 
in Prime Minister Soro's entourage have made statements 
indicating that the ceremony may mark the end of the 
disarmament process, that is not Soro's position. Lobognon 
said that during the ceremony, the weapons to be burned were 
placed in a container doused with a flammable liquid.  He 
said that when the container was lighted, there was a small 
explosion and the VIPs attending the ceremony quickly moved 
away.  Stalon said that, in a very symbolic action, President 
Gbagbo took hold of Prime Minister Soro's hand and they moved 
away from the fire together.  Stalon said the next step is 
for the government to take concrete steps to effect 
disarmament. 
 
5. (C) PDCI Secretary-general Alphonse Djedje Mady told 
Emboffs August 3 that the declarations made at Bouake that 
the war has ended are positive, but that concrete results 
showing that the conflict is over are lacking.  Mady said 
reunification of the armed forces has not yet occurred and 
militias are still armed.  He noted that prefects and judges 
have not yet assumed their duties in the north and said that 
one administrative system to run the country must be put in 
place if the country is truly to be united. Mady said PDCI 
leader Bedie did not attend the ceremony because he only 
received an invitation the Friday before the Monday ceremony, 
which he interpreted to mean that he was not really wanted. 
Mady, who headed the PDCI delegation to the ceremony, stated 
that opposition political party representatives were 
relegated to back seats.  Mady stated that only the 
government can take the actions needed to effectively bring 
about peace, adding that the President decides everything. 
Mady said it is important to encourage all small gains on the 
path to peace and said he believes the holding of elections 
in 6 or 7 months will be difficult, but possible, if the 
political will exists.  Mady was extremely critical of the 
international community for eliminating the position of High 
Representative for Elections. Mady said that the government 
bodies that will certify the elections, the Supreme Court and 
the Constitutional Council, are controlled by Gbagbo and 
accused the international community of doing what Gbagbo 
wants since there is currently no violence in Cote d'Ivoire. 
 
 
 
HUDDLESTON