I.Coast army marks independence day

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Ivory Coast's newly-established army paraded Sunday in Abidjan to mark 51 years since the former French colony gained independence.

The Ivory Coast Republican Forces (FCRI) - the name of the new army uniting ex-combatants - marched with police on the presidential palace esplanade.

The ceremony was attended by head of state Alassane Ouattara, who formally entered office in May after a bloody post-election crisis, and his Prime Minister Guillaume Soro.

Also present were the UN Ivory Coast mission chief Choi Young-jin and the French and US ambassadors.

Ouattara announced this week that leaders from the militia that helped him take power were being appointed to top military posts.

Fighters from the New Forces group of former rebels fought alongside the FRCI in the standoff with forces backing ex-president Laurent Gbagbo that left some 3,000 people dead.

Gbagbo is under house arrest in the north and Ouattara has said he will likely face domestic and international prosecution for crimes committed during the five-month political standoff following his refusal to accept defeat in the November election.

Independence celebrations were this year scaled back as the nation mourns the deaths of at least 37 people in a road accident in Abidjan on Friday.

© 2011 AFP

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