France resumes security cooperation with Ivory Coast
France marked the resumption of security cooperation with Ivory Coast after a seven-year hiatus with the delivery of police vehicles Monday in Abidjan.
Once the jewel in the crown of France's former colonies, Ivory Coast's ties with Paris took a nosedive under Laurent Gbagbo, who was ousted from the presidency in April after a deadly poll dispute with Alassane Ouattara.
A ceremony attended by French Interior Minister Claude Gueant was held in the Ivorian economic capital as the west African nation took delivery of around 30 French vehicles for security purposes, as well as computer equipment.
Gueant said it was crucial for Ivory Coast to address "the blatant equipment gap afflicting the security and civil protection forces in the aftermath of the crisis and after a decade of instability."
The country was wracked by a protracted conflict that erupted after Gbagbo refused to concede defeat in November 2010 polls.
Some 3,000 people were killed in the conflict, which brought the country back to the brink of civil war.
Ouattara eventually got the upper hand thanks notably to military assistance from France and the United Nations.
France's relations with cocoa-rich Ivory Coast during Gbagbo's 10-year stint at the helm were icy, and both countries have been keen to mend ties under Ouattara's new administration.
"How many times do our fellow countrymen call us for help when our security forces are not mobile enough to go out there and assist them?" asked Gueant's counterpart Hamed Bakayoko at the ceremony.
He predicted a new phase of "dynamic cooperation" which he said would be sealed during Ouattara's state visit to France in December.
Bilateral security cooperation irreparably broke down in 2004 when Ivorian forces carried out an aerial attack on French troops stationed in the north, prompting a retaliation in which the entire Ivorian air force was destroyed.
© 2011 AFP