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IVORIAN PRESIDENT DISCARDS U.N. PLAN FOR PEACE

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Jan. 31 (GIN) - In apparent defiance of peacemaking efforts of the United Nations, Cote d’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo announced this week he would not disband parliament even though its term has expired.

Gbagbo’s decree comes shortly after his supporters rioted in major towns within government-controlled southern Cote d’Ivoire. UN buildings were attacked for four days as supporters of Gbagbo accused the UN of interfering in Ivorian affairs.

"The Secretary-General expresses his concern about the unexpected issuance of a presidential decree concerning the National Assembly," a UN statement issued o­n Sunday said.

Cote d’Ivoire’s parliament, the National Assembly, is o­ne of President Gbagbo’s strongest power bases in a divided country split in half since a failed coup attempt against Gbagbo in September 2002.

President Gbagbo said he came to this decision o­n the basis of recent talks with interim Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny and Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

But observers say Gbagbo is waging a power struggle with Banny who was appointed to his post by the international community.

Banny, a former banker turned prime minister, has been conferring with new African Union Chairman and Congolese head of state, Denis Sassou Nguesso, and South African president Thabo Mbeki to resolve the crisis.

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