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Gbagbo makes landmark peace-driven visit to Burkina

Latest update : 2008-07-29

"I have come to announce peace", Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo told Burkina Faso's lawmakers, during a landmark three-day visit to Ouagadougou signaling warming relations between the two countries.

Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo sought Monday to reassure neighbouring Burkina Faso about the fragile peace in his homeland, telling lawmakers on a landmark visit that the war was over.

"I have come to tell you the storm has passed. I have come to announce the end of the war in Ivory Coast. I have come to announce peace," he said during a short address to the Burkina Faso parliament.

After a peace accord, partly brokered by Ouagadougou, a new government was installed earlier this year in Ivory Coast which entailed Gbagbo sharing power with former rebel chief Guillaume Soro as his prime minister.

Relations between Abidjan and Ouagadougou had been strained since a September 2002 coup attempt against Gbagbo by Soro's New Force rebels cut the country in half.

Gbagbo has accused Burkina Faso of supporting the rebels. Ouagadougou in return blamed the Ivorian authorities of supporting a failed coup in Burkina in 2003.

The Ivorian president's three-day visit to Burkina is a clear sign that relations between the West African nations are warming up.

"I have come to say that it is time to get to work. Let's get back to work," Gbagbo told the parliament in a call to strengthen regional cooperation.

His visit to Burkina comes ahead of planned presidential elections on November 30, a culmination of the peace process.

Gbagbo stressed that despite a sometimes rocky relationship the ties between the two countries are very strong.

"For me and also for many Ivorians and Burkina Faso nationals Ivory Coast and Burkina are one and the same fatherland in the heart of West Africa because of our long political, economical, social, cultural and human history," he said.

Some four million people from Burkina Faso work in Ivory Coast, most in the plantations of the world's biggest cocoa producer.

Date created : 2008-07-29