No breakthrough in Accra talks

Two days of top-level consultations in the Ghanaian capital, Accra, appear to have failed to find any consensus amongst the main opposing forces in neighbouring Cote d'Ivoire.

Cote d'Ivoire's Prime Minister, Seydou Diarra, and the leader of the rebel forces, now known as the "New Forces", Guillaume Soro, arrived in Accra on Tuesday as guests of Ghanaian President John Kufuor, who is also chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).

A Ghanaian government statement said the talks were aimed at "breaking the current impasse in the Ivorian peace process and creating the appropriate conditions for the return of the Ministers of the New Forces into the government of National Reconciliation".

The consultations finished on Thursday with a brief statement from President Kufuor's office which simply "expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the consultations" and "thanked Diarra and Soro for their commitment and determination to work to advance the peace process in Cote d'Ivoire".

There has been political deadlock in Cote d'Ivoire since September when rebel ministers relinquished their cabinet posts in a government of national unity, protesting that they had been marginalised by Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo.

Soro and his colleagues say they will only return to government if they are given strong security guarantees.

Gbagbo's supporters have accused the rebels of holding the country to ransom. Diarra has stressed the need to end the partition of Cote d'Ivoire but the New Forces continue to hold large swathes of territory, particularly in the north since hostilities first broke out in September 2002.

Cote d’Ivoire’s continued climate of insecurity has once again raised the need to guarantee human rights and protect thousands of war-affected people, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said in a statement on Wednesday.

OCHA said the slowness of political progress and recent inter-ethnic violence continued to expose thousands of Ivorian and foreign immigrants to violations of thir rights.

"October and November have seen numerous incidents of inter-ethnic violence, organised crime and political demonstrations," the UN office said.

According to OCHA, populations living in western, northern and along the cease-fire line were the most at risk rights violations.

The importance of human rights and civilian protection is exemplified by the US $9.4 million that the UN and its partners appealed for, when they launched the annual Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) 2004 for Cote d’Ivoire. That amount greatly surpassed the $3.5 million the world body had asked for in an earlier CAP launched this year. Of the $3.5 million then requested, the UN received nothing.

Human rights violations have been widely documented in the Ivorian crisis. At the height of the war, an unknown group of hit-men, often referred to as "Death Sqauds", kidnapped people across town. Many of them, including a well-know comedian and the brother of a senior member of the rebel group, were found dead shortly after.