- Côte d'Ivoire leaders have gone extra mile to demonstrate their commitment to lasting peace in their country by setting fire to stockpiled weapons, which is seen as the finishing touches of the process to seal the five-year civil war.
The landmark ceremony, which took place in the former rebel north control capital of Bouake, was witnessed by both President Laurent Gbagbo and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro.
The trip is the first taken by the Ivorian leader to the area since the war broke out in September 2002. He said the burning of guns is a clear sign that the war is over.
For Mr Soro, the burnt guns have gone with the war. And as a symbol of national reconciliation, the flame of peace will be carried to all the 19 regions of the country.
Côte d'Ivoire - the world’s largest cocoa producer and once seen as the most cosmopolitan country in West Africa - had been divided into rebel-controlled north and the government-held south for years.
But the signing of a peace deal by the Ivorian leader and Mr Soro, the former Secretary General of Forces Nouvelles, in March had restored hope in peace-seeking Ivorians.
This culminated in the appointment of Mr Soro as the Prime Minister. He has formed a new government, a presidential decree that indemnifies crimes by both hostile parties was put in place and a buffer zone between the south and north was dismantled.
Under the Ouagadougou peace agreement, the two leaders agreed to reunite the country and hold elections by early 2008, when Mr Soro’s term of office expires.
President Gbagbo has not only declared Monday a public holiday, he has also extended invitation to African leaders from Burkina Faso, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Ghana, Benin and Mali to the country.
However, an assassination attempt on the life of Mr Soro last month has raised more security questions than answers. Soro’s plane came under rocket propeller attack as soon as it landed in Bouake, resulting to the death of four people while leaving scores seriously injured. He described the attack as scary and serious and therefore called for independent investigation into the issue.
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