In Ivory Coast, a member of former President Laurent Gbagbo’s party says the foiled coup attempt announced by President Alassane Ouattara’s government is a figment of their imagination.
Tcheide Jean Gervais, treasurer for former President Gbagbo’s Popular Front Party, told VOA in an interview late Wednesday, “There is no real evidence of such a coup.”
Gervais said the government is “inventing the situation, and they are accusing the people just to try to push us down and keep us in the position that we can’t do anything.”
The government announced Wednesday that they had foiled a coup attempt by exiled military officers with ties to former President Gbagbo.
Interior minister Hamed Bakayoko told VOA that a "clear link" was found between former defense minister Moise Lida Kouassi and the alleged plotters' plan to form a new transitional government.
Bakayoko says Kouassi, who was arrested by Togolese authorities and turned over to Ivorian forces, confessed about his involvement during a police interrogation.
But Gervais said the accusations are an attempt to distract attention from what he says is the “mess” created by the current government’s policies.
He also accused the government of violating Kouassi’s rights by denying him access to his attorney.
“Even if he was accused of something and there was evidence, normally he should have been assisted by his attorney,” Gervais said. But he says the lawyer, a former prime minister of Togo, “was not even allowed to be beside him so that he can intervene.”
Gervais says he and his fellow party-members want to know exactly what the government is accusing the alleged coup plotters of.
“We want to see the evidence so that we can pronounce ourselves. But so far, nothing as such has happened.”
He said the government should also have given opposition members a chance to respond to the specific accusations on television.
Former President Gbagbo lost a 2010 presidential poll to Mr. Ouattara, but fought to remain in power. About 3,000 people were killed in a bloody power struggle between the two sides, until the former president was captured in April of last year.
Mr. Gbagbo has been charged with crimes against humanity and is being held in The Hague by the International Criminal Court.
Western Ivory Coast has remained unstable since his arrest. The United Nations on Wednesday said four civilians were killed in separate attacks on Tuesday, bringing the total to 20 deaths, including seven peacekeepers in a week.
Human Rights Watch has blamed the killings on Ivorian militiamen and Liberian mercenaries from eastern Liberia.