Ivory Coast’s prime minister said he will announce the composition of the country’s new government within 24 hours, a move that could bring an end to a week of violent protests sparked by the president’s dissolution of the former government.
After a day of marathon meetings between the two sides, Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, told reporters on Monday that the country’s “political players” had come to an agreement and that he planned to announce the details of the new government on Wednesday morning.
His announcement came as at least two more protesters died on Monday when an opposition demonstration turned violent, deepening the political crisis that has gripped this nation of 20 million since its government was summarily disbanded by President Laurent Gbagbo, earlier this month.
The protests came after top opposition leaders refused to join a new coalition government, effectively stopping the formation of the government that had been expected to be announced on Monday. Although the opposition has not yet made an official declaration, Mr. Soro spoke to reporters following a meeting of a council that includes the country’s top two opposition leaders.
“I’m pleased to announce that these talks have come to fruition and have allowed the Ivoirian political players to come to an understanding to advance the process of exiting this crisis - and above all to bring peace to our country,” Mr. Soro said, flanked by Mr. Gbagbo and Blaise Compaore, the President of neighbouring Burkina Faso.
Mr. Compaore, who had flown in on Monday at the invitation of the opposition and has been acting as a negotiator between the warring factions, said that the talks had yielded “positive results.”
As of late Sunday, the opposition had refused to participate in a new government with Mr. Gbagbo, whom they accuse of trying to cling to power. The spat began when Mr. Gbagbo dissolved the government claiming the electoral commission committed fraud. The move will cause presidential elections to replace him, which were due to be held no later than next month, to once again be delayed.
The political dispute sparked protests in at least five cities across the country on Monday.
During a protest in the northern Abobo district of Abidjan, an Associated Press Television News journalist said he saw two dead bodies being guarded by police. Alexandre Brou, a local pastor, also said he watched police severely beat several protesters.
Bus driver Mema Camara, said hundreds of young men started gathering early Monday morning, building barricades, cutting off all traffic and burning tires. They hurled stones at approaching cars before riot police used tear gas and fired into the air to disperse the crowds.
“The police began beating anyone they could catch,” he said. “We hid in our houses to avoid them.”
Opposition supporter Ahmed Coulibaly, said the police followed demonstrators into their houses and took them away.
“We’re scandalized. We’re traumatized. It reminds us of the worst moments of the civil war,” he said.
The West African nation has been divided between a rebel-controlled north and a government-controlled south since war broke out in 2002. The sides formed a unity government in 2007 and were preparing for presidential elections when Mr. Gbagbo dissolved the government on February 12. Presidential elections have been postponed every year since 2005, when Mr. Gbagbo’s term ended.
The country’s only international television news channel, the French-language France 24, also was shuttered on Monday, said the head of the country’s national audiovisual regulatory board.
Franck Anderson Kouassi, said the channel’s broadcast was stopped on Monday morning “for a lack of professionalism,” though he did not specify or say when it would be unblocked.