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View Full Version : Ivory Coast Rebels Threaten War with French Troops


CHOCO
Dec 14th, 2002, 02:35 AM
http://wwwi.reuters.com/images/2002-12-13T220306Z_01_GALAXY-DC-MDF167547_RTRIDSP_2_INTERNATIONAL-IVORYCOAST-DC.jpg
France said on December 11, 2002, it would immediately send more soldiers to Ivory Coast and was ready to host a summit of African leaders in Paris to end war in its former West African colony. File photo shows crack French soldiers viewing the surrounding area through binoculars at a new roadblock 60 kms west of Daloa, December 7, 2002


Ivory Coast Rebels Threaten War with French Troops
Fri December 13, 2002 08:59 PM ET

By John Zodzi

LOME (Reuters) - Ivory Coast's main rebel group has threatened war against French troops, thrusting the former colony closer to the anarchy that has engulfed nearby nations in West Africa.

France has some 1,500 soldiers monitoring a shaky cease-fire between the government and the rebels who seized the north of the once stable country in an armed uprising in September.

Hundreds of reinforcements due to begin arriving on Saturday will make it France's biggest intervention force in Africa since it backed Chad's government in the 1980s.

France, which initially deployed troops to protect thousands of its citizens in Ivory Coast, invited the rebel Patriotic Movement of Ivory Coast (MPCI) to peace talks in Paris, provided it proved its political credentials.

But the rebels' chief negotiator at talks in the Togolese capital Lome told France to get out or face war.

"The French force in Ivory Coast is deviating from its mission and becoming a true force of occupation. In light of this, the MPCI will fight and its forces are ready to take up the challenge of war," Guillaume Soro said late on Friday.

West African leaders also stepped up the pace planning a summit in Togo to chart a way out of the deepening war in which hundreds have died and hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes.

U.N. agencies said they were preparing for a possible refugee crisis in the world's top cocoa grower, where attacks by two new rebel factions have thrown peace efforts into confusion.

Refugee agency UNHCR said 100,000 people, mainly immigrants, had fled abroad, and many more had left their homes.

France also said it would ask the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights to investigate massacres in Ivory Coast, split between northern-based rebels and loyalist forces. Both sides are accused of summary executions and other abuses.

Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema is planning a summit next week with Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo, Senegal's Abdoulaye Wade and other prominent regional leaders to end the crisis.

Eyadema has been hosting peace talks in Togo's capital Lome since the end of October, but scant progress has been made.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) also plans to send a buffer force to Ivory Coast although Nigeria, which led regional forces to curb anarchic wars in nearby Liberia and Sierra Leone, has said it will not send troops.

But delays assembling the force have left French troops monitoring the cease-fire agreed in October between the rebel MPCI and the government, which now faces two new rebel factions in the west backed by Liberian fighters.

The government has hired foreign mercenaries and thousands of youths have volunteered to fight the rebels.

Growing animosity between northern Muslims and Christians from further south such as President Laurent Gbagbo have been at the heart of Ivory Coast's crisis since a military coup in 1999.

CHOCO
Dec 14th, 2002, 02:39 AM
http://news.bbc.co.uk/media/images/38585000/jpg/_38585877_french300afp.jpg
French troops have exchanged gunfire with rebels



Ivorian rebels 'ready to fight French'

The main rebel group in Ivory Coast says it is ready to fight French troops deployed as peacekeepers in the country.
A spokesman for the Patriotic Movement of Ivory Coast (MPCI) Guillaume Soro said the fact that France had decided to send reinforcements to Ivory Coast showed it was deviating from its peacekeeping mission and becoming a force of occupation.

So far, the 1,200 troops deployed in France's former colony have been monitoring a shaky ceasefire between government forces and the rebels who now control the north of the country.

The first contingent of reinforcements is due to fly into Ivory Coast on Saturday.

They will have a broader mandate than the one they currently hold, and be able to enforce the ceasefire.

The BBC's Paul Welsh in Ivory Coast's commercial capital, Abidjan says the MPCI believes the French are taking sides with the government.


Deviation

Chief rebel negotiator Guillaume Soro issued the warning to the French troops at a news conference in Togo's capital Lome, where peace talks have so far failed to end the Ivorian conflict.

"The French force in Ivory Coast is deviating from its mission and becoming a true force of occupation. In light of this, the MPCI will fight and its forces are ready to take up the challenge of war," Mr Soro said.


Both sides have been recruiting

"The troops of the MPCI are ready to fight with the soldiers and the mercenaries of [Ivory Coast President Laurent] Gbagbo and any other foreign army which is a player or an accomplice in the genocide."

Mr Soro said the rebels were demanding the "pure and simple departure of France from Ivory Coast".

But the French troops say they are there to stay.

Speaking to the BBC French service, Colonel Christian Baptiste of the French army said: "We will do more now and get a bit more involved in the stabilisation process created by the ceasefire accords."

Talks fail

As part of efforts to end the war, France has also said it will call a summit in Paris of all Ivory Coast players, as well as African leaders involved in the crisis.

"The MPCI will be invited to Paris, if it shows itself to be a political force," French foreign ministry spokesman Francois Rivasseau said on Friday.

Seven Ivorian political parties have signed a document in which they call for the liberation of the rebel-held zones and urge respect for constitutional legality and territorial integrity.

MPCI rebels condemned the meeting, and suspended their participation in the Togo peace talks.

The presidents of Senegal, Nigeria, Ghana and Togo are due to meet on Monday to try to take the talks forward.

At least 400 people have been killed since the uprising by disgruntled soldiers, and hundreds of thousands displaced by the fighting.

Scotso
Dec 14th, 2002, 03:58 AM
It would be a mistake for them to take on France.

CHOCO
Dec 14th, 2002, 09:57 AM
This could get ugly.

CHOCO
Dec 14th, 2002, 11:49 AM
Rebels in Ivory Coast tell France to get out of country or face war

Rebel groups fighting in Ivory Coast have threatened to attack French troops stationed there if they do not leave the country immediately. France recently deployed over 1000 soldiers to the region to protect its citizens and monitor a shaky ceasefire between rebels and the Ivorian government, but rebel leaders now see France's presence as a force of occupation. In an effort to resolve the crisis, French officials have invited members from the rebel group Patriotic Movement of Ivory Coast (MPCI) to peace talks in Paris, provided they proved their political credentials. But the rebels' chief negotiator at talks in the Togolese capital Lome told France to get out of Ivory Coast or face war. U.N. agencies said they were preparing for a possible refugee crisis in Ivory Coast, where attacks by two new rebel factions have thrown peace efforts into confusion.

CHOCO
Dec 14th, 2002, 01:40 PM
:(

CHOCO
Dec 14th, 2002, 05:27 PM
France to Deploy More Troops in Ivory Coast
VOA News
14 Dec 2002, 15:30 UTC


France is flying 500 additional soldiers to strife-torn Ivory Coast to protect its citizens and preserve what remains of a two-month-old cease-fire.

An early contingent of 300 troops will arrive Saturday, boosting a French force of between 1200 and 1500 soldiers already on the ground. The French monitored cease-fire that went into effect in mid-October collapsed amid renewed fighting last month. Rebel soldiers have denounced the latest troop deployment and say they are ready to fight French soldiers, who they accuse of siding with the Ivorian government.

Meanwhile, Togo is to host a summit on Ivory Coast on Monday with the presidents of Senegal, Nigeria and Ghana. There has been little progress despite weeks of peace talks in Togo between the Ivory Coast government and the rebels.

The rebels control the northern half of Ivory Coast and are demanding the resignation of President Laurent Gbagbo as well as better treatment for the country's northern and Muslim minorities.

CHOCO
Dec 15th, 2002, 10:17 PM
More French Troops Deploy In Ivory Coast
VOA News
15 Dec 2002, 19:30 UTC


France is stepping up its military role in Ivory Coast -- deploying more troops and empowering them to open fire on anyone who tries to impede their mission to end a 12-week conflict between northern rebels and the government.

One hundred fifty paratroopers arrived late Saturday to beef up the 1,200 strong contingent already in the country.

The leader of the newly arrived contingent, Colonel Emmanuel Morin, says the troops have changed their mission from one of surveillance, to making sure the cease-fire is respected.

The French soldiers had earlier been authorized only to monitor a truce signed by the rebels and the government October 17 which fell apart late last month.

The more active role of the French has angered rebels, who charge the French forces with intervening on the side of the government.

The new French deployment comes ahead of a mini-summit of west-African nations Monday in Togo aimed at resolving the Ivorian crisis.

Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema will host the meeting that will include the heads of state of Nigeria and Senegal.

Separately, thousands of people demonstrated Saturday against the French in the rebel-held city of Bouake. The United States, Britain and many other Western nations have urged their nationals to leave Ivory Coast because of the conflict.