Ivory Coast: January 30, 2003


: The Ivory Coast's armed forces, police, customs and other security services have refused to accept President Gbagbo's Paris peace talks promise to include the rebels in key interior and defense ministries. The Italian Catholic MISNA reported that three MPCI (Patriotic Movement of the Ivory Coast) commanders were captured in Sakassou (around 220 kilometers north of the capital) and later executed in the rebel capital Bouak. They were the commanders of the three main road blocks along the routes into Bouak, but it remains unclear whether the motive behind the executions was an internal MPCI power struggle or MPCI "house cleaning" in an effort to conform to the Paris peace agreement.

Unrest in the capital, Abidjan, continues, with the fear that the youth protests could turn into a 'witch hunt' of French nationals. Abidjan airport was still closed and Air France has temporarily suspended flights to the Ivory Coast. One oddity of the continuing protests have been the pro-American, anti-French sentiments expressed by the crowds. To the echoes of "goooooooood morning America" outside Abidjan's US embassy, youths waved placards saying: "Like Judas, France has betrayed Ivory Coast," "Down with France, long live the US" and "No more French, from now on we speak English. US Marines prudently stood guard on the embassy's roof until afternoon, when the crowd dispersed.

Meanwhile, calm had returned to Agboville, a town about 80 kilometers north of the capital. On the afternoon of the 28th, ethnic Abbeys, a Christian minority in the town despite being dominant in the region, tried to attack Agboville's main mosque. The attack was rebuffed by Dioulas, an ethnic group from the predominantly Muslim north, but sparked a wave of violence in which both sides are said to have used locally manufactured guns. Between eight and ten people were killed, with 30 injured. Several shops were burnt or pillaged and a church was razed. However, Agboville was tense with security forces keeping watch, since there were also reports that the men from the surrounding Abbey villages were preparing to advance on Agboville. - Adam Geibel


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