Ivory Coast: October 17, 2002


Witnesses in Daloa reported that the rebels had fled the town and government troops are in control, following heavy fighting on 14 October. Four Angolan armored vehicles supposedly fought alongside government troops in the battle for the city, along with Angolan "technical advisers". Barrages of machine gun fire and occasional explosions could still be heard for the next two days, indicating that some rebels were still in the area.

However, as late as 15 October, the Angolan Presidency was still denying that the Angolan Armed Forces (FAA) were involved in the Ivory Coast's internal crisis and that they had armored vehicles in-country. Photographic analysis can't be denied - western news sources clearly showed a BMP-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle with it's engine hatch raised. This vehicle was not in the Ivorian inventory.

The Loyalists have also claimed that the rebels have received support from outside of the county, specifically pointing to heavy weaponry not in the Ivory Coast's arsenal. Several western press photographs show rebel-operated pickup trucks fitted with ZPU-1 single-barrel 14.5mm machineguns. While these weapons were not on the pre-mutiny lists for the Ivorian Army, Burkian Faso had 30 of them and this lends credence to loyalist claims of Burkianian meddling. Of lesser interest were the new-looking World War II-era Russian PPSH43 submachineguns carried by some rebels (again, not an Ivorian weapon).

Far behind the scenes, this could well be another war for oil. The Ivory Coast contains an estimated 100 million barrels of recoverable oil reserves, with offshore reserves first discovered in the 1970's. During the twenty-year period from 1970 to 1990, over 100 wells were drilled offshore, resulting in the discovery of several commercial oil and gas fields. 

President Gbagbo issued the rebels an ultimatum, warning that the rebellion would be ended either by war or peace this week - after his army had received military supplies. Meanwhile, the rebels opened their own website (www.supportmpci.org) titled "Mouvement Patriotique de Cote d'Ivoire -- For a united and democratic Cote d'Ivoire, where every citizen lives under the protection of the law". The site is bilingual, in both French and English. - Adam Geibel


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