Ivorian army changes name to escape dark image


Ivory Coast will change the official name of its armed forces in the coming days, the government said in what was seen as an effort to clean up its image after the country’s civil war.

Government spokesman Bruno Kone told Reuters the name would be changed to FANCI (National Armed Forces of Ivory Coast) — a name that was first used for Ivory Coast’s military by post-independence President Felix Houphouet-Boigny — from the current FRCI (Republican Forces of Ivory Coast) .
“At a time like this, we need to adopt the most widely acceptable name possible,” Kone added.

The government is keen to forge a disciplined and unified force from the patchwork of former rebel and loyalist gunmen that now form the army, Reuters reports.

FRCI was the name given to the body of fighters that battled to remove Laurent Gbagbo from power earlier this year and allow Alassane Ouattara, widely believed to have won last November’s presidential election, to take power.

Its soldiers, many of them former rebels from the country’s first civil war in 2002, have been accused by rights groups of atrocities during the fighting — though the bulk of the abuses have been pinned on Gbagbo’s FDS army.

The United Nations said it had received reports of executions by FRCI soldiers since the fighting ended, and residents of Abidjan have said they are responsible for looting and racketeering.
“It is a good thing to change the name of the military,” said Abou Traore, who sells portable phones in Abidjan. “When you hear the name FRCI, it spells disorder and bedlam.”

The FRCI has since attempted to incorporate former FDS fighters into its ranks, though the government has also moved to demobilize some 10,000 gunmen by the end of this year.
“I think it is good to change the name since the FRCI is currently synonymous with disorder and impunity,” said Patrice Koue, a civil servant. “But they need to do more than just change the name. They need to change their behaviour.”