Ivory Coast: September 2, 2003


The Ivorian government kept 11 soldiers and seven civilians detained for questioning about an alleged plot to assassinate President Laurent Gbagbo, his wife and several senior officials. Only Air force general Abdoulaye Coulibaly was released on the night before (after four days of "investigations") because he had not been properly arrested and insufficient evidence was found to link him to the conspiracy.

More than 50 people had been arrested in the Ivory Coast on August 30, in connection with the alleged plot. It was not immediately clear whether some of those thought to have been arrested had been released quietly or whether they were still being held secretly by the government. 

In France, many of the ten alleged conspirators detained were linked to General Robert Guei's military government, which ruled the Ivory Coast after a 199 coup d'etat in 1999 until elections in 2000. Coulibaly had turned power over to Guei, rather than taking over himself. Plot ringleader Master Sargent Ibrahim Coulibaly was also linked to a failed coup on September 2002, which plunged the country into civil war.

The conspirators had planned to kill Gbagbo and his wife Simone, who is the parliamentary leader of the president's Ivorian Popular Front (FPI) party in Abidjan during the last week of August while they were driving in an official motorcade. On 26 August, Gbagbo unexpectedly postponed a ceremony to rename part of the capital's Boulevard Giscard d'Estaing Boulevard des Armees, in honor of those who died defending the country in the civil war. - Adam Geibel


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