Ivory Coast announces new govt

2011-06-02 07:51

Abidjan - Ivory Coast announced a new government on Wednesday in another step towards re-establishing itself after a five-month dispute over presidential elections that descended into deadly violence.

The line-up of 36 ministers does not feature the party of Laurent Gbagbo, the former president who refused to step down after November elections, leading to the violence.

The new government is headed by Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, who is also defence minister, government spokesperson Amadou Gon Coulibaly told reporters.

It includes 14 members of President Alassane Ouattara's Rally of the Republicans party and eight from the Democratic Party of Ivory Coast of his main ally, former president Henri Konan Bedie.

One-time rebel movement the New Forces has five members in the cabinet, one of them being Soro, while five ministers are from civil society.

The remaining portfolios are held by smaller parties, with Gbagbo's Popular Ivorian Front absent.

Ouattara had wanted to include Gbagbo's party but it had imposed conditions for its participation, including the release of the former president and others.

Gbagbo is being held at an official residence in the north of the country and faces prosecution over the conflict.

Tough task

The new government is expected to hold its first cabinet meeting on Friday.

Ouattara was inaugurated as president on May 21, vowing a new start for the west African country after conflict that left around 3 000 people dead, according to Ivory Coast officials, and tens of thousands more displaced.

The election commission ruled that Ouattara won the November presidential vote, a result disputed by Gbagbo who clung to power until his arrest on April 11.

The government faces the tough task of reconciling a country torn apart by the violence, especially in the west, where more than a million people were killed in the post-election crisis, according to the United Nations.

It will also need to build one security forces and re-launch an economy hammered by the standoff.

The Ivory Coast, once the economic engine of west Africa, is the world's leading producer of cocoa, used to make chocolate, and also a top supplier of coffee.