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More Protests Against France in Ivory Coast

Supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo say he is under attack by France to resign, but they will defend him. Protests against French interests continue one day after French troops neutralized much of Ivory Coast's military, in response to an attack on French troops.

Thousands of Ivorians took to the streets to protest against what they say is French interference in their country. A philosophy teacher, Stanislas Anoh, says he will support President Gbagbo against the former colonial power.

"Now, I am walking for my president. I think that is the president of Cote d'Ivoire," he said. "And I need help to help us to strike against the imperialists from France. I notice that France does not want African people to be free."

He says President Gbagbo was chosen by the people, and should remain in power. Widespread incidents of looting took place throughout Abidjan.

Ivorian police worked to disperse the crowds, and guarded some of the larger stores. But some young men managed to grab televisions, lamps and fans, as they marched through the streets of some of the more affluent suburbs.

The renewed conflict between the government and the rebels led to fears of renewed civil war. But on Saturday, government troops conducting air raids on the rebel stronghold city of Bouake hit a French position, killing at least nine French soldiers and one American aid worker.

The French retaliated for the death of its soldiers by destroying two Sukhoi bombers and helicopters belonging to the Ivory Coast military, effectively wiping out the government's air offensive capabilities.

That led the government and its supporters to turn against the French, who are in Ivory Coast to secure an 18-month-old cease-fire.

The commander of Ivorian troops in the administrative capital, Yamoussoukro, Colonel Philippe Mangou told VOA he is pulling his troops back from the front lines, and redeploying them to their positions before the air raids began Thursday.

The former Ivorian prime minister, Pascal Affi N'Guessan, issued a statement on national television Sunday, ordering French forces to leave Ivory Coast. He also called on the pro-government militias to prevent foreign troops from circulating.

But the army spokesman, Jules Yao Yao, also speaking on national television called on the Ivorian military in Abidjan to return to barracks. He also said that political negotiations are under way to end the crisis.

Several hundred new French troops are deploying to help stabilize the situation in Abidjan.

The United Nations called for President Gbagbo to end the violence. More than 10,000 U.N. peacekeepers and French forces are already on the ground, trying to help reunite Ivory Coast, which has been divided since September 2002.