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France Accused of Organizing 'Coup' in Ivory Coast


An Ivorian official involved in peace talks with rebel factions near Paris, has accused the French mediator of trying to organize a coup d'etat in Ivory Coast. The president of the country's National Assembly said he walked out of the talks in protest.

Ivorian National Assembly President Mamadou Koulibaly accused French mediator Pierre Mazeaud of using the Ivorian constitution in an attempt to overthrow the government.

The negotiations Mr. Mazeaud has been chairing among government representatives, political parties, and rebel factions have reportedly produced agreement to change the constitutional requirements for running for president in ways that favor the rebels and the political opposition.

Speaking to the French news agency, AFP, Mr. Koulibaly accused Mr. Mazeaud of doing what the rebels had failed to do militarily.

Mr. Koulibaly, a close associate of Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, said he walked out of the closed-door talks Monday, although he did not reveal it immediately.

The French Foreign Ministry had no comment on Mr. Koulibaly's statements or on rebel accusations that government negotiatorstried to bribe them, with envelopes full of cash, to change their position. The ministry had earlier said the talks were going well.

The talks, which are supposed to be completed by Friday, are also under pressure from external events. A French military spokesman says two French soldiers were wounded in fighting with a rebel faction late Tuesday in Ivory Coast.

One of them had to have a forearm amputated. Several rebel fighters are also believed to have been hurt in the clash.

France has 2,500 troops in Ivory Coast to enforce a cease-fire among the three rebel groups and government forces.

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