Accessibility links

Protesters Storm Ivory Coast Airport


Hundreds of demonstrators stormed the airport at Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, on Friday. The demonstrations are part of continuing protests over a new peace accord that some Ivorians say grants too many concessions to rebels.

Hundreds of youths showed up at the Abidjan airport, saying they were there to prevent the arrival of Seydou Diarra. Mr. Diarra was the man chosen to be Ivory Coast's new prime minister under the terms of a French-brokered peace accord that was meant to end a four-month rebellion in the West African country.

The agreement, reached in France one week ago among the government, rebels, and political parties, includes a power-sharing arrangement with the rebels.

The airport demonstration was the latest in a series of violent protests that have targeted French-owned businesses and institutions. Protesters accuse France - the former colonial power - of forcing Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo to concede what they believe is too much power to the rebels.

Demonstrators stormed the tarmac as hundreds of French expatriates, including many children, prepared to leave the country.

This demonstrator said he turned out to show that he opposes what he says is French intervention in Ivory Coast.

He says, he does not understand why the French are playing so strong a political role in his country, which has been independent from France since 1960. Why, he asks, are they imposing this prime minister on us?

Ivorian security forces stood by and did little to stop the bands of protesters from storming the airport. French troops intervened to push them back. At least one French soldier was seriously wounded in a scuffle with the demonstrators, some of whom were throwing rocks.

French troops took positions at the airport, as hundreds gathered, waving banners, saying they reject Mr. Diarra as the new prime minister. Mr. Diarra is from the rebel-held north, where President Gbagbo has traditionally had little support.

Pressure has been growing on Mr. Gbagbo to reject the peace accord. Political parties and the army this week came out against the terms of the agreement.

France has called on him to respect the accord.

West African leaders gathered in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, Friday, in an effort to salvage the accord. They were to hear from government and rebel representatives.

The main rebel group, which controls half the country, has said it is ready to resume fighting, if the peace deal collapses.

XS
SM
MD
LG