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Ivory Coast Opposition Trade Accusations with Government


Opponents of Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo accuse the government of targeting them for punishment, following the arrest of 11 opposition activists.

All the detainees are members of the Muslim-dominated Rally of the Republicans political party. They were accused by Security Minister Martin Bleou late Monday of plotting to assassinate political, administrative and military figures. The specific targets of their alleged plot have not been revealed.

The militants remain in police custody to help with inquiries. Mr. Bleou said the men were being well looked after.

Although the party is part of the reconciliation government, its leader, Alassane Ouattara, remains in exile. The Rally of the Republicans has condemned the latest arrests as arbitrary.

In August, rebel leader Ibrahim Coulibaly, known as "IB," was arrested along with 10 others in France. French authorities said they had uncovered evidence of a plot to destabilize Ivory Coast. Similar arrests followed in Abidjan.

According to Rally of the Republicans spokesman, Cisse Bacongo, party political clubs known as "grains" are being targeted by police The party says the government is seeking to dismantle these clubs, calling them subversive groups and accusing them of being behind last year's coup attempt which sparked the ongoing crisis.

In a separate development, a member of Ivory Coast's former ruling party, the Democratic Party for Ivory Coast, was also arrested. Alphonse Kossonou was taken from his home last Thursday by two military personnel in civilian clothes. Authorities say he is being held at a police training center in Abidjan, where he is being questioned for threatening state security.

President Laurent Gbagbo is in Abuja for a meeting with his Nigerian counterpart Olusegun Obasanjo. The two leaders are discussing Ivory Coast's stalled peace process.

Both reportedly agreed the continued division of the country, where half remains under the control of armed rebel groups, is unacceptable. They also called for international help in bringing peace to Ivory Coast.

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