Wednesday, February 12, 2003

IVORY COAST: DECISIVE HOUR

WEA Religious Liberty Prayer List - No. 206 - Wed 12 Feb 2003

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IVORY COAST: DECISIVE HOUR
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By Elizabeth Kendal

Ivory Coast has reached a critical juncture. The recent French-brokered, UN-backed peace accord was in essence a 'constitutional coup' for the militant Islamist rebels, who started the internal conflict with a failed political coup. Ivory Coast's president, Laurent Gbagbo (a Christian) had agreed to a government of national unity. However, French President Chirac, his foreign minister de Villepin, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Gabon's Muslim President Omar Bongo promised crucial government positions to the rebels. Now, five of Ivory Coast's six main political parties, traditional chiefs and the army all refuse to legitimise militant rebels with rewards of government power, and want the accord re-negotiated.

President Gbagbo has told the nation he supports the 'spirit' of the accord. He has however promised to negotiate the details according to the constitution. The rebels are of course demanding what the 'international community' has promised them. They refused to attend talks held on Monday 10 February, saying there is nothing more to negotiate. They have given President Gbagbo until Friday 14 February to 'implement the accord in full' or they will resume
their war.

Evidence abounds that the rebels have received training, funds and arms from Burkina Faso, Libya, al-Qaeda and other Islamist networks. The rebels' agenda is not only political (a coup to install their choice of leader) but Islamist. They have threatened to 'slaughter' some Christian leaders and pastors. Many Christians, concerned about a violent rebel advance, are taking their families out of the country to safety.

Ivory Coast has been a haven of peace, liberty, stability and prosperity in West Africa. Because it has full religious freedom it has been the base of much West African Christian mission. The integrity of the nation is now at stake. But the conflict has implications beyond Ivory Coast: if these rebels succeed in Ivory Coast then what is to prevent similar foreign and network sponsored Muslim rebels revolting in other ethnically and religiously mixed nations such as Ghana, Togo, Benin and Nigeria. The rebels have blamed their lack of success so far on the prayers of Christians.

Let's have the same confidence in the power released through our prayers that they have! Let's pray!

PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR

* God to guide and protect President Gbagbo and his family,
Christian leaders, pastors, workers and their families, and
anxious believers. 'The Lord will be our Mighty One. He will be
like a wide river of protection that no enemy can cross.' Isaiah
33:21 NLT.

* God to bind demonic forces, frustrate the plans of the wicked,
and prevent a rebel takeover of the nation. 'And everyone will
know that the Lord does not need weapons to rescue his people. It
is his battle, not ours.' David to Goliath - 1 Samuel 17:47 NLT