Ivory Coast's warring factions agreed Wednesday to end hostilities, start immediate disarmament and make plans for new elections in a bid to prevent a renewed explosion of violence in the world's leading cocoa producer.
The agreement followed four days of talks in Pretoria mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki, who summoned all sides to his country's capital to try to rescue the peace process. The negotiations were the factions' first face-to-face meeting since civil war flared up again last fall in the West African nation.
"The parties . . . hereby solemnly declare the immediate and final cessation of all hostilities and the end of the war through the national territory," said the agreement signed in Pretoria.
Ivory Coast has been split between the rebel-held north and loyalist south since a failed coup attempt in 2002. A peace accord was reached in France in January 2003, but to little avail. A cease-fire reached in May of the same year was violated twice by Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, raising doubts about elections.