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Thursday, February 23, 2017
Ivory Coast: missionaries voice concern at arrival of new militia
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 "Calm has returned but fire still glows under the embers and violence could explode any moment" a missionary source in Duekoue, west Côte d'Ivoire told Fides news service yesterday. He was speaking following an outbreak of fighting between MILOCI Movement for the Liberation of Côte d'Ivoire, a militia group thought to be close President Laurent Gbago, and rebels of the New Forces group which has occupied the north and west of the country since September 2002. "Communication is difficult, some villages are isolated because of the many road blocks. The road to Abidjan, economic capital of Côte d'Ivoire is the only one which is open" said Fides sources. In the area there is a contingent of UN peace keepers ONUCI and a group of French troops sent by Paris to monitor a cease fire between the factions. On Tuesday the leader of MILOCI threatened the French with a 'second Dien Bien Phu' accusing French troops of conniving with the New Forces rebels. "These threats derive from the fact that last November, when there was a popular revolt against the presence of French troops in Côte d'Ivoire, several civilians were killed in clashes with French peacekeepers in Duekoue" he said. With regard to the origin of MILOCI, Fides sources said: "The militia are mainly Yacouba, an ethnic group hitherto considered close to New Forces rebels. General Robert Guei who led the military government in Côte d'Ivoire in 1999 and 2000 was a Yacouba." Guei was assassinated under circumstances which remain a mystery in September 2002 at the beginning of the civil war. "The Yacouba blame President Gbago for the death of Guei and initially sided with the rebellion. Now they feel betrayed by the New Forces which have failed to stabilise the situation. The entire west is in the grip of anarchy and MILOCI says it wants to free its towns and villages to restore order." With regard to who is backing the MILOCI, Fides sources said: "Officially it is said to be a spontaneous movement not backed by the government. But in fact it appears to have support from the military in government even though MILOCI is said to have taken some arms from the New Forces rebels. Therefore there would seem to be a split in the rebel movement." Since September 2002 the country has been cut in half with the north in the hands of the New Forces rebels and the south government by President Laurent Gbagbo, while 6,000 UN peacekeepers and a French military contingent of 4,000 a monitor peace agreement signed in France in January 2003. Source: Fides
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