Ivory Coast's main opposition party on Tuesday demanded direct talks with the government to press demands including the release of political prisoners and the safe return of exiles.
The statement from Laurent Gbagbo's Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) raised fresh questions on the future of an already troubled reconciliation process after deadly violence claimed about 3,000 lives in the west African country. The bloodshed occurred from December 2010 to April 2011, after Gbagbo refused to accept losing a presidential election to Alassane Ouattara, who is now president.
Since then, reconciliation efforts between the FPI and Ouattara's government have been fraught, but Prime Minister Jeannot Kouadio Ahoussou met last Friday with FPI leaders in a bid to resume the stalled process.
"The government has absolutely no intention of having direct talks with the FPI as the institutional opposition power," the FPI's statement said. "It seems to prefer making publicity stunts." Still, the party said it wanted "to give reconciliation a chance."
Tensions soared last month after Ouattara supporters accused the FPI of planning a coup, and armed gangs killed more than 20 people in the country's southwest.The FPI has strongly denied any involvement in the bloodshed.Gbagbo is currently in a cell of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where he faces charges of crimes against humanity.