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Saturday, December 16, 2017
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Gbagbo allies behind Ivory Coast attacks – interior minister

Ivory Coast attacksAllies of Ivory Coast’s former president Laurent Gbagbo, including at least one in exile in neighbouring Ghana, are behind a wave of attacks on security installations this year, the interior minister said.

Thirty-five including soldiers were arrested for involvement in the violence, according to a statement released by Sidiki Diakite following a meeting of the National Security Council.

Francophone West Africa’s biggest economy has been shaken by army mutinies, violent protests by former rebels and a spate of attacks on prisons and police stations this year.

The attacks have raised fears over long-term stability, more than six years after a prolonged crisis ended in a civil war that killed more than 3,000, when Gbagbo refused to cede a 2010 election to current President Alassane Ouattara.

“Most of the people were already implicated in similar attacks between 2012 and 2014,” Diakite said. “Arrested and imprisoned, they were freed in the spirit of political dialogue and reconciliation.”

Much of this year’s violence was previously blamed on disgruntled former members of the rebel group that helped Ouattara dislodge Gbagbo. Former fighters loyal to Gbagbo were blamed for past attacks, including several that killed 10 soldiers in Abidjan in 2012 and other deadly attacks near the Liberian border in 2014.

Gbagbo was captured in April 2011 and is on trial at the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges. Many of his allies have been pardoned.

“It is clear the clemency offered them with a view to peace and reconciliation was not understood and so they continue to pose a threat,” the minister said.

Ghanaian government officials were not immediately available to comment on the allegations. Ivory Coast has in the past accused Accra of not doing enough to track down Gbagbo supporters.

Thousands of weapons left over from the war are still in circulation and the army is crippled by internal divisions.

If Gbagbo’s allies are behind recent attacks, Ivory Coast faces instability from both them and the rebels they fought as it approaches what is likely to be a hotly contested election to choose Ouattara’s successor in 2020.

 
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