Ivory Coast: October 10, 2003


Hundreds of pro-government militia took to the streets of the commercial capital, Abidjan, to protest against ongoing conflict and demand that French-owned water and electricity companies stop serving areas under rebel control. The Group for Peace and Progress (GPP) harassed traders in the low-income suburbs, disrupting traffic and threatening residents.

While the French contingent will number around 3,700 men by the end of October, according to Operation Unicorn spokesman the large-scale deployment of French troops in the north would not start anytime soon. 

Since then, the French have been making noises about deploying into the northern part of the Ivory Coast in greater force. On 16 September, after a visit by French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie, the ministry had announced that France was ready to deploy troops into the north of the country "in the weeks to come".

At the behest of the New Forces, several hundred soldiers from the French and West African peacekeeping forces were deployed in Bouake at the end of September, to secure the banking quarter where violent incidents triggered by a bank robbery had caused at least 23 deaths. - Adam Geibel


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