Ivory Coast: December 1, 2003



A pro-government mob set upon the base of the French 43rd Marine Infantry Battalion in the commercial capital Abidjan, before French military police dispersed them with teargas. French troops left the base in APCs to confront the 250-strong, rock-throwing mob that demanded that the French withdraw from a buffer zone in central Ivory Coast. The French news agency AFP reported that Ivorian security forces briefly intervened but then stood back, despite a ban on public protests. French soldiers then put up barbed wire fencing outside the base, before the protesters returned to pelt the installation with stones, and preventing any cars carrying Europeans from approaching.

Niger sent 50 more troops to reinforce their contingent of 250 peacekeepers already supporting the ECOWAS mission. The French stated that they have no intention of leaving until the mission is accomplished and a military spokesman in Paris described the Ivorian officers' demands as "irresponsible and inopportune". 

The night before, Ivorian state TV was interrupted when a group of soldiers forced its way into the television building in Abidjan and read a statement saying: "We are asking the president to allow us to resume the war." Claiming that they had what they needed to "liberate" the country within 48 hours, they demanded that peacekeepers let them move to rebel-controlled areas and that whites leave the front lines. However, they stressed that their actions were not a coup and that they supported the president. - Adam Geibel


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