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Former Ivorian PM Accuses Successor of Plotting President's Assassination - 2003-08-28

Ivory Coast's former prime minister has accused his successor of plotting to assassinate President Laurent Gbagbo. The accusations follow the arrest in France of 10 people on suspicion they planned to destabilize Ivory Coast.

Former prime minister of Ivory Coast, Affi Nguessan, who is head of the ruling Ivorian Popular Front, has accused Prime Minister Seydou Diarra of what he called "incitement and complicity in destabilization" of the West African country. While presenting no evidence, Mr. Nguessan said his successor visited Paris shortly before the French authorities said they had unearthed a plot to destabilize Ivory Coast.

Former Ivorian army sergeant Ibrahim Coulibaly, who led a coup in Ivory Coast in 1999, was among the 10 people the French authorities arrested during the weekend in connection with the alleged plot. The French authorities said Ibrahim Coulibaly was placed under judicial investigation for belonging to "an association of criminals in connection with a terrorist operation," and, along with the others, is being held in a Paris jail.

The Ivorian government has also arrested as many as 30 people in connection with the "Coulibaly Affair" in Abidjan. No names of those arrested have been released. According to President Laurent Gbagbo, the alleged plot included plans to assassinate him and leading members of his government, and thereby, throw the country into chaos.

In the rebel-held north of the country, supporters of Ibrahim Coulibaly staged a demonstration to demand his release.

A failed attempt to overthrow Mr. Gbagbo nearly a year ago threw Ivory Coast into a civil war that ended in January when French troops helped enforce a cease-fire. The war was declared over in July, but political tensions remain, as some rebels who have been brought into the government suspended their participation and declared the reconciliation process as deadlocked.