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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Protesters Denounce Ivory Coast Peace Deal

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- Gangs of youths grouped in Ivory Coast's main city Abidjan on Monday to protest a peace deal they say was imposed by former colonial power France.

President Laurent Gbagbo faces the tough task of trying to sell the power-sharing accord with rebels to end four months of war in the world's top cocoa producer. Gbagbo was expected to speak later Monday.

In some districts, residents said protesters with painted faces, wielding sticks and machetes, set up barricades to stop anyone going to work, a day after thousands of protesters took to the streets to denounce the accord.

In the center of Abidjan, youths chanting anti-rebel slogans marched along the main street in the Plateau business district.

On both sides of a front that roughly splits the rebel-held largely Muslim north from Gbagbo's heavily Christian south, the deal signed in Paris is generally seen as a victory for rebels holding at least half of the West African country.

"Ivory Coast humiliated in Paris" was the headline Monday of Notre Voie, Gbagbo's ruling party newspaper, summing up the feeling among many of his supporters.

The French Embassy and military base were the main targets over the weekend for protesters blaming Paris for pushing Gbagbo into an accord with the rebel factions.

The war, which blew up from a failed coup Sept. 19, has left hundreds dead and displaced more than 1 million people.

African leaders, the European Union and United Nations gave their own stamp of approval Sunday to the deal agreed by Gbagbo, under which he has already named a new prime minister to set up a coalition government.

Protesters were angered by reports that the rebels would get the defense and interior ministries.

A rebel leader said Monday there was no going back on the deal and urged the international community to be firm in applying it.

"Gbagbo must accept, there is no question of anyone backing down," rebel chief negotiator Guillaume Soro told French Europe 1 radio.

"It is the president's responsibility to ask his supporters to follow and to respect the letter and the spirit of this agreement," he said.

Under the accord, Gbagbo has lost powers he won in bloody and disputed 2000 elections, though he will be allowed to keep his job until the next ballot in 2005.

The rebels, who accuse Gbagbo of fanning discrimination in the once stable country, had demanded that he step down.

Residents said protesters near the French military base were forcing drivers heading into town to turn back Monday.

French troops used tear gas and riot-control stun grenades Sunday to drive back protesters from the base and the French Embassy. Several French citizens were hurt by looters who attacked businesses and homes.

Rioting stopped after Gbagbo appealed for calm and asked people to wait and hear what he had to say.

France has committed a 2,500-member force to protect some 20,000 citizens in Ivory Coast and stop the spiraling crisis, but Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said French soldiers would not be used to install the new government.

Ivory Coast's army has called some aspects of the accord humiliating, though, and an army spokesman said the forces expected Gbagbo to discuss the deal with them. Some soldiers say they should get ministries if the rebels have them.