ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Dec. 31 (UPI) -- French soldiers have begun peace-keeping duties in northern Ivory Coast, Radio Free Europe reported Wednesday.
France's defense minister said French soldiers have been deployed along front lines in the country's civil war and are helping with security in both the government-run south and rebel-held north.
Michele Alliot-Marie also applauded the conduct of the 4,000 French troops who have effectively ended fighting in the former French colony since their deployment late last year.
Armed rebels continue to occupy the north because they say the peace deal, which includes giving voting rights to many northerners now considered immigrants, has not yet been implemented.
Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo has called on rebels to disarm so the peace process can move along.
Meanwhile, rebel leader Guillaume Soro confirmed Tuesday that rebel political leaders will rejoin a power-sharing government early next year.
He also asked for forgiveness from all Ivorians and said suspended administrative services were desperately needed in the north.