Ivory Coast to join French-led manoeuvres in Benin

25th November 2004, Comments 0 comments

COTONOU, Nov 24 (AFP) - Benin military authorities said Wednesday they were expecting to host a military team from crisis-rocked Ivory Coast in a French-led military exercise scheduled to begin at the end of this month.

COTONOU, Nov 24 (AFP) - Benin military authorities said Wednesday they were expecting to host a military team from crisis-rocked Ivory Coast in a French-led military exercise scheduled to begin at the end of this month.

"The Ivory Coast contingent is still being expected and it is expected to come by road to Benin on Saturday, November 27," Cotonou's army director of public relations, Colonel Haminou Boni, told AFP.

"If it was not coming, it would have informed us," he said, in a tone that could douse doubt on whether or not Ivory Coast, a member of the west African regional grouping ECOWAS embroiled in civil conflict and at loggerheads with France, would participate in the exercise.

The manoeuvres, baptised RECAMP IV, are scheduled to run from November 29 to December 10, and aimed at training west African troops to keep the peace in their volatile region.

RECAMP IV is the latest stage of a long-standing French-led programme to help African armies carry out peacekeeping and humanitarian missions on their continent.

France's defence ministry had said Tuesday in Paris that Ivory Coast contingent’s participation in the military training could not be confirmed.

Tense relations between the Ivorian and French forces erupted earlier this month when an Ivorian jet bombed a French base in renewed operations against rebels, killing nine French soldiers, a US civilian scientist.

France responded by destroying the entire air force of its former colony. French forces also clashed with Ivorian troops in a gun battle at Abidjan airport.

Anti-French riots erupted in Ivory Coast's commercial capital Abidjan in the wake of the clashes and some 5,000 French and other foreign civilians fled the country. An uneasy calm has now returned, but officials in Gbagbo's government have continued to be fiercely critical of French intervention.

French troops have been deployed as peacekeepers since a shaky truce was agreed in March last year in France between the Ivorian government and the rebels in the north of the country.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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