I Coast crowd demand names of French soldierson bank theft charge

5th October 2004, Comments 0 comments

ABIDJAN, Oct 5 (AFP) - Dozens of hard-line partisans of Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo rallied Tuesday outside a French military base to demand the names of 12 French soldiers implicated in a bank robbery in the west of the country.

ABIDJAN, Oct 5 (AFP) - Dozens of hard-line partisans of Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo rallied Tuesday outside a French military base to demand the names of 12 French soldiers implicated in a bank robbery in the west of the country.  

The soldiers allegedly stole EUR 160,000 from the Man branch of the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), which they had been assigned to protect.   

If they are found guilty it will be the second time in a year that a group of French troops, serving as peacekeepers in the former French colony, is implicated in a bank robbery in Ivory Coast.  

Dozens of so-called Young Patriots clustered around the base in the main city Abidjan, hurling stones to prevent vehicles from passing through its gates. The French military police stationed outside responded with tear gas.  

A group of Ivory Coast police hurried to the scene to separate the foes but otherwise remained unengaged.  

Young Patriots leader Charles Ble Goude, a close ally of Gbagbo, said the demonstrations would continue in Abidjan as well as in the western port town of San Pedro until the names of the French troops were handed over along with the date set for their trial in France, where they have been repatriated.  

"This is not a demonstration against the French citizens in Ivory Coast, but against those French troops guilty of theft," Ble Goude told AFP.  

Ivory Coast, once a regional powerhouse with a robust cocoa-based economy, remains wracked by conflict since a failed bid in September 2002 by rebels to oust Gbagbo.

Two years later, the country is still divided into the rebel-held north and the government-controlled south.  

Some 10,000 French and UN peacekeepers are on the ground in the run-up to elections set for October 2005. Disarmament of all paramilitary and militia groups in Ivory Coast is set to begin October 15.  

Gbagbo took to the airwaves Tuesday morning to plead for calm, urging all sides to the conflict to refrain from action that would prevent disarmament.

© AFP

 

Subject: French News

 

 

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