Ivory Coast: July 9, 2003


The rebels have accused the Gbagbo government of signing a "working contract" with former DGSE (General Director of External Security - the French military intelligence service) and DST (Directorate of Land Supervision, the French equivalent of the CIA) officers to recruit mercenaries under the cover of an English insurance company, using the false pretext of securing the Ivory Coast's economic infrastructure (such as the port of Abidjan). 

An antigovernment daily newspaper printed their claim that a dozen of these mercenaries entered the Ivory Coast the week before and that the rebels promptly placed them under close surveillance. The rebels suspect that they were hired by retired intelligence officers, who were planning a neo-colonialist agenda that would ultimately benefit the French Defense Ministry. 

Even when there isn't a civil war, private security companies keep a lot of west African industries and warehouses from being pilfered. For instance, the UK Foreign Affairs Committee listed the firm SPS Guards as a Private Military Company, since they provide security guards, alarm systems and rapid response teams in Abidjan for an $105,000 annually renewed contract. However, the South African firm Securicor bought out SPS-Guards in early 2003. The Florida-based security company Wackenhut also bought a 60% stake in SEGES, an Ivory Coast security firm, back in 1994. - Adam Geibel 


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