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France Ready to Evacuate Its Citizens from Ivory Coast


France says it is prepared to evacuate its citizens from Ivory Coast at a moment's notice, as concern grows about anti-French protests over a peace agreement with Ivorian rebels brokered in Paris.

The French foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, said Wednesday that France is monitoring the situation in Ivory Coast by the hour, has stepped up security to protect its citizens, and is ready to evacuate them immediately.

Earlier in the week, Mr. Villepin said Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo must explain to his supporters that the peace agreement reached in Paris last week with rebel factions is in the country's interest.

The Ivorian army says it cannot accept the plan to have rebels hold the defense and interior ministry portfolios in a new power sharing government.

Mr. Gbagbo's supporters have taken to the streets to protest what they see as the imposition by France of a political settlement favoring the rebels. A French school and a cultural center in Abidjan have been ransacked. France has told its citizens there to stay at home. Air France has announced that it has suspended flights to Ivory Coast.

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