portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reposts

Imperialist France under fire in Ivory Coast

Imperialst French are at it again.
French face I. Coast protest fury
Friday, January 31, 2003 Posted: 12:33 PM EST (1733 GMT)

Protesters clash with French troops at Abidjan airport on Friday.


Story Tools


Anti-French riots in Ivory Coast

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- Days of anti-French protests came to a head on Friday as more than 1,000 stone-throwing protesters laid siege to Ivory Coast's main airport.

The demonstrators blocked airliners to try to stop the return to Ivory Coast of new Prime Minister Seydou Diarra, appointed under the French-brokered peace deal between the government and rebels.

Demonstrators beat up foreigners lining up to quit the country -- once a haven of stability in the region -- after anti-French riots involving machete-wielding youths erupted earlier this week on news of the peace accord.

A French army officer said one soldier had been hit by a stone as about 100 troops took up positions around their citizens. The chaos prevented some passengers from boarding several flights, while others were trapped inside the planes, The Associated Press reported.

"Go home and don't come back!" the protesters screamed at families seated next to piles of luggage, AP said.

The airport demonstration is the latest incident in four days of riots triggered by the deal agreed in France.

As the violence flared, France urged its 16,000 citizens who live in Ivory Coast to leave the country unless their presence there was essential.

The deal, which the protesters say President Laurent Gbagbo was forced to sign, is an attempt to halt a four-month war that has left hundreds dead.

French citizens prepare to return home during unrest at airport.

Diarra was due to arrive in Abidjan after attending a summit of West African leaders convened in Senegal to try to resolve the conflict between rebel and government forces in Ivory Coast. But sources in Dakar told Reuters he was reluctant to return.

The meeting, earlier on Friday, was called after the peace deal resulted in widespread riots that have left at least 10 people dead.

France's embassy and army base, as well as French businesses, have also been targeted by protesters.

On Thursday, foreign nationals began evacuating the country -- the world's largest cocoa producer -- amid fears for their safety.

France has sent 2,500 troops and 130 gendarmes to the West African country since the conflict began four months ago.

"This is the best chance we have, maybe the only chance," said one West African diplomat ahead of Friday's summit.

French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said on Wednesday that the deal, which Gbagbo has played down and the Ivory Coast army has rejected, must remain the basis for any reconciliation between the government and rebel forces challenging it.

He said French soldiers were on alert but added France had to "avoid any slip-up that could set off a fire."

"Up until now, we have avoided the worst in Ivory Coast and we will work to ensure that the path of peace and reconciliation can be the one that is taken."

He added: "Let me tell you one thing -- whatever happens, even if we go through difficult moments in the coming days, that political accord will remain the basis for reconciliation among Ivorians. It's a balanced accord."

address: address: http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/africa/01/31/ivory.coast/index.html