Ten arrested for Ivory Coast 'plot'
Two French nationals were among those arrested and charged in Abidjan with "plotting against the authority of the state" in the Ivory Coast
ABIDJAN, January 17, 2008 - Eight west Africans and two French nationals
have been arrested and charged in Abidjan with "plotting against the authority
of the state," Ivory Coast state prosecutor Raymond Tchimou said Thursday.
The 10 arrested on Wednesday included three Ivorians, four people from Mali
and a Gambian, while one of the French nationals was a journalist, Tchimou
told a press conference.
They were charged and placed in custody for "attack, plotting against the
authority of the state and national integrity, participation in an armed
group, disturbing public order and failing to denounce actions likely to
undermine national defence," he added.
The Frenchmen arrested were freelance photo-reporter Jean-Paul Ney, 31, and
an unidentified Franco-Ivorian businessman, aged 43, who has worked in Abidjan
for years, according to sources close to the case.
Ney was arrested by a police patrol on the night of December 27 in front of
the headquarters of the national RTI radio and television network, a
government source said.
He had been equipped with "various electronic devices", carrying
"gris-gris" (local magic charms) and was in the company of an unidentified
Ivorian bearing a firearm, Tchimou said.
Ney and the Ivorian were taken to the counter-intelligence service, which
"carried out inquiries under the direction of the Abidjan prosecutor's office
(that) led to the retrieval of video footage and other evidence," he said.
The prosecutor otherwise declined to identify and give any details of those
arrested or the cases against them, explaining that he could say no more while
the investigation went on.
The French embassy in Abidjan told AFP it was following events closely and
that the two Frenchmen have been under consular protection since Thursday
The Gamma photo agency, which sometimes uses Ney's work, and the press
watchdog Reporters Sans Frontieres (Reporters Without Borders) had expressed
concern about his whereabouts and fate as of January 4.
News of the arrests came nearly 10 days after Abidjan's military prosecutor
began investigating an alleged coup attempt by exile Ibrahim Coulibaly, one of
the rebel leaders in the 2002 attempted coup against President Laurent Gbagbo.
The New Forces ex-rebel movement of Prime Minister Guillaume Soro had
accused Coulibaly of planning simultaneous attacks on the town of Bouake, his
main powerbase, and the Ivorian economic capital Abidjan.
Coulibaly's entourage, which has said he will return to Ivory Coast at the
end of February for the presidential elections, denied any such plans.
The former economic powerhouse of west Africa and the world's top cocoa
producer, Ivory Coast was split in two between a government-held south and a
rebel north after the foiled coup bid against Gbagbo.
Former rebel leader Soro in April last year became prime minister after the
latest of several peace accords was signed.
In late November, Gbagbo and Soro signed a deal to hold elections in late
June 2008 "at the latest" -- more or less in line with the agreement they
reached eight months earlier.
But key components of the deal, including dismantling rebels and militias
and registering hundreds of thousands of people without identity cards, have