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Ivory Coast Army Alleges Coup Plot


The army in Ivory Coast has said some of its officers have been contacted to join a coup against President Laurent this week. Franz Wild has the details for VOA from Abidjan.

Ivory Coast's army spokesman Colonel Babri Gohourou announced the alleged coup plot on state television on Tuesday. "For several weeks," he says, "officers, non-commissioned officers and troops in the ranks of the armed forces have been approached by civilians and military with a view to stage a coup. The course of action included political assassinations of authorities and military chiefs, in particular the president of the republic [and] the armed forces chief of staff," he said.

The coup, the army spokesman went on to say, was to be carried out between December 12 and 17. But the army was conducting further investigations.

Gohourou said, the leader of the coup is an active member of a political party, currently being protected by his backers.

President Gbagbo referred to the alleged plot in a previously scheduled address, declaring his intention not to let anyone topple him. "I am in power and I will hold on, because to weaken today would be to deliver Ivory Coast to demonic winds. I will not weaken," he said.

Members in the opposition have said coup plot allegations are farfetched. They believe Mr. Gbagbo has created an excuse with which to prolong the political impasse in Ivory Coast. They were not prepared to make a public statement immediately.

Political tension has been rising in Ivory Coast for several months. In a recent resolution the United Nations Security Council extended Prime Minister Charles Konan Banny's powers to include control over the army.

Rebels have controlled the north of Ivory Coast since a failed coup plot in 2002 turned into civil war. As a neutral prime minister, Mr. Banny is to organize elections. But before that can happen he has to spearhead the rebels' disarmament and an identification scheme, which will lead to updated electoral lists.

Mr. Banny has so far failed to secure the army's support. He has also clashed in public with Mr. Gbagbo.

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