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Banny is confident on election, disarmament

Published Dec 12, 2005

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Pretoria - Newly elected Ivorian Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny on Sunday said he was confident that the task of organising new elections as well as disarming fighters in the divided west African state would be met.

Banny, who is continuing consultations both within and outside the Ivory Coast met South African President Thabo Mbeki on Sunday for talks on his recent appointment as well as challenges within his troubled country.

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"If I did not think I could help to solve that important question I would not have embarked on this mission," Banny said in response to a question on whether he thought elections by October next year and the disarmament of rebels and militia were possible.

"My answer to that question is my acceptance of my appointment," he said at a joint press conference with Mbeki in Pretoria.

A United Nations Security Council resolution will give Banny wide powers including authority over all security, electoral and financial matters and will enable him to seize portfolios of uncooperative ministers.

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Banny was asked whether he or Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo was in charge of the country, which has been in turmoil since fighting broke out in 2002 between Gbagbo's forces and rebels based in the mainly Muslim north.

"I have not come here to talk about that question, (although) it is an important one," said Banny.

"The term of President Gbagbo ended at the end of October 2005. I will take that into account when I try to accomplish the mission given to me. At the end of that I hope that that question would become irrelevant," he said.

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Banny, who took over the reigns from his predecessor Seydou Diarra on Wednesday, already had discussions with leading Ivorian political players, as well as meeting Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo on Friday.

Banny, until now the governor of the West African Central Bank, was appointed to his new job on Sunday by the chief mediators in Ivory Coast's political crisis, presidents Obasanjo - who is also chairman of the African Union - and Mbeki.

Banny's most pressing job will be to organise a national disarmament operation and to organise a presidential election before the end of October next year.

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Obasanjo and Mbeki stressed that Banny, 63, would not himself be eligible to run in the election to replace Gbagbo.

The world's leading cocoa producer, once one of Africa's most prosperous states, has been split since fighting broke out in 2002. - Sapa-AFP

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