Cote d'Ivoire's Movement of Forces for Future (MFA) has quit the coalition government after its leader was accused of inciting people to follow "the example of Madagascans."
"The MFA retires itself from the governing coalition," announced its leader Innocent Anaky Kobenan on Monday, urging other signatories of the January 2003 peace accords to follow the suit.
Reconstruction Minister Bamba Hamza is the only MFA member in the coalition government.
Kobenan was set free on Saturday 24 hours after being questioned at the country's territory surveillance agency.
On Wednesday, he said on state television what had happened in Madagascar should serve as an example for President Laurent Gbagboa in a real transition. The Interior Ministry rebuffed the rhetoric on Saturday, saying Kobenan was making "grave political troubles" and inciting citizens "to disobey law and order of the legitimate authority."
The quitting of the MFA makes the prolonged peace process in the divided West African country even more complicated when the international community is highly expecting a long-delayed presidential election to take place in 2009.
Cote d'Ivoire last postponed the vote on Nov. 30 largely due to the slow moving of voter identification.
After signing their fourth agreement in December to form a united army of national defense, both President Gbagbo and Prime Minister Guillaume Soro, the leader of the former rebel New Forces(FN), agreed to speed up the pre-election census. The two men signed their first deal in March 2007, under which Soro was name prime minister.
The balance could be tilted if the government fails to reign in revolts from inside, especially at a time of turbulence hitting some of the African countries for the past months.
After suspending Mauritania and Guinea for military coups, the African Union recently did the same thing to Madagascar, viewing the political change in the Indian Ocean island state as another coup, in which President Marc Ravalomanana was ousted by opposition leader Andry Rajoelina with the backing of the military.
In Cote d'Ivoire, Gbagbo is facing two-pronged challenges from inside the coalition and from impacts of the countries suffering political turmoil in the continent. A stable coalition is seen as guarantee for the much-anticipated election to end the country's long-standing crisis and division.
Cote d'Ivoire, a leading cocoa and diamond exporter in West Africa, was split into the government-controlled south and the FN-held north after a botched coup attempt by the former rebel in 2002. The presidential polls have never taken place since the signing of peace accords in 2003.
The United Nations Operation in Cote d'Ivoire (UNOCI) has maintained more than 8,000 peacekeepers in the country. The UN Security Council recently adopted resolution 1865 to reduce the UNOCI presence from 8,115 to 7,450, citing "increased stability" in Cote d'Ivoire.