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Monday, 26 October 2020

Unrest fears as would-be Ivory Coast leader calls march

Ivory Coast was braced for trouble Wednesday after Ouattara, one of the African state's two declared presidents called on his supporters to march on state television and the seat of government.

AFP, Wednesday 15 Dec 2010
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Views: 738

After two weeks of stalemate and increasingly hardline rhetoric from both sides, Ouattara and his would-be prime minister, former rebel leader Guillaume Soro, have called on their supporters to seize RTI television on Thursday.

In the pro-Ouattara district of Abobo, tension was running high Wedndesday as police and army reinforcements deployed around government buildings and his partisans declared their determination to take power in the streets.
"The mobilisation will be total," predicted 50-year-old Bakary Kone. "We wanted to head to RTI to sleep there tonight, but we're waiting for word from our prime minister. If we lose faith now, Gbagbo will be there forever."

Both Alassane Ouattara and Laurent Gbagbo claim to have won last month's election, and both have declared themselves president, provoking fears of new chaos in a country already divided into northern and southern armed camps.
Ouattara won the recognition of the international community but is running out of time to assert his rule, with Gbagbo defiantly hanging on to control of the military and ministries.

The pro-Outtara daily Le Patriote declared across its front page: "Thursday: D-Day. Everyone in the street to liberate RTI." Gbagbo's paper, "Notre Voie", accused the United Nations of arming northern rebel fighters.

If the Ouattara camp manages to take the television station on Thursday, it has vowed to move on to take the prime minister's office in the well-defended Plateau district of downtown Abidjan on Friday.

Gbagbo's government has said it will resist, and on Wednesday one of his most notorious supporters, Minister for Youth Charles Ble Goude, mobilised 2,000 of his partisans for a rally in a pro-Ouattara suburb of Abidjan.

In 2006, Ble Goude was placed under United Nations sanctions for his role in organising and leading mob violence in the streets of Abidjan during a previous political crisis in 2004, but he has since moderated his rhetoric.

Ble Goude is best known for his role inspiring past attacks against French interests and on Ivorians from northern communities, but he insisted Tuesday on RTI that he is not now following "a bellicose logic".

His supporters met in a cultural centre in Treichville and were awaiting their leader, the one-time head of the "Young Patriots" movement.

Ble Goude may have changed his rhetorical style, but any mobilisation by his supporters will increase fears of renewed faction-fighting between Gbagbo's southern supporters and Ouattara's northerners in Abidjan.

In 2004 Young Patriots also targeted French interests, and Paris' decision to recognise Ouattara as election victor has inspired a new wave of anti-French feeling in what was once the jewel of its West African colonies.

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