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Vol 43 No 19

Published 27th September 2002

Côte d'Ivoire

The nightmare scenario

An army rebellion may send the once-prosperous country down the same road as its unstable neighbours

Côte d'Ivoire is in danger of fragmenting on ethnic lines as efforts to put down an army mutiny turn into an all-out assault on immigrants and on opponents of President Laurent Gbagbo. There had been rumblings for months among dissident soldiers recruited into the army by former military leader General Robert Gueï (AC Vol 43 No 10). He was killed during the mutiny by troops loyal to Gbagbo. The mutiny broke out in the early hours of 19 September while Gbagbo was in Rome. The mutineers killed Interior Minister Emile Boga Doudou and attacked the home of Defence Minister Moïse Lida Kouassi. Gueï's body was found dumped in a ditch. The government claimed he was shot dead as he was heading for the television station to proclaim a coup, though he was dressed in a rather unpresidential tee-shirt and died from a single shot to the head. His wife Rose was also shot dead and the body of his aide-de-camp, Captain Fabien Coulibaly, was found riddled with bullets. The villa of opposition leader Alassane Dramane Ouattara ('ADO') was torched. He took refuge first with his neighbour the German Ambassador, then in the large and well secured French Embassy, from where he accused the government of trying to kill him, too. Former President Henri Konan Bédié holed up with the Canadian envoy.

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