Ivory Coast: November 11, 2002


: The Ivory Coast rebels are bracing themselves for more fighting after pulling, out of peace talks with the government on 9 November because of the murder of Benoit Dakoury-Tabley. They also sent 600 men and supplies from the north of the country to their central stronghold of Bouake. Rebel spokesman Cherif Ousmane explained that shots fired in the town were merely rebel units firing off "practice rounds" with recently received heavy weaponry. The rebels also claim that Gbagbo's army was moving tanks towards the frontline town of Tiebissou, south of Bouake.

A wave of murder, abduction and torture by unknown death squads has raised questions over how far elements of the Ivory Coast's security forces might allow the West African country's peace process to progress. President Gbagbo is "a hostage" (as one one civil servant described it) caught in the middle: on one side are people telling him he has to make concessions for peace and on the other, that his own army and people will get rid of him if they think he is caving in.

However, the rebels assured mediator Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema on the 10th that they had not broken off peace talks permanently. Meanwhile, Mali's General Oumar Diarra (a senior ECOWAS official) stressed that the suspension of the peace talks did not jeopardize the deployment of the peacekeeping force. - Adam Geibel


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