Ivory Coast: Official Rejects Coup Accusations

Posted June 14th, 2012 at 2:35 am (UTC-5)
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A member of former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo's political party is denying government accusations that exiled military officers loyal to the former leader were plotting to overthrow the government.

Tcheide Jean Gervais, the treasurer for the Popular Front Party, told VOA there is no evidence of such a coup attempt, saying the government of President Alassane Ouattara concocted the story for political reasons.

“There is no real evidence of such a coup. The only thing I can tell you right now is that this regime is in such a mess, due to [President Ouattara's] way of ruling the country, that they think the best way to get out of this situation is to find somebody else and to charge him with trying to make a coup.”

On Wednesday, the government said it had foiled the coup attempt and arrested several people, including Colonel Kate Gnatoa, who was identified as the leader of the group.

Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko told VOA a “clear link” was found between Moise Lida Kouassi, a former defense minister, and the alleged plan to form a new transitional government. He said Kouassi confessed about his involvement during a police interrogation.

But Gervais denied the allegations against Kouassi, saying the government is violating his rights by denying him access to an attorney. He also said the Popular Front Party wants to know the exact charges against the alleged coup plotters.

Mr. Gbagbo lost a 2010 presidential poll to President Alassane Ouattara, but fought to remain in power. About 3,000 people were killed in a bloody power struggle between the two sides, until the former president was captured in April of last year.

Mr. Gbagbo has been charged with crimes against humanity and is being held in The Hague by the International Criminal Court.

Western Ivory Coast has remained unstable since his arrest. The United Nations on Wednesday said four civilians were killed in separate attacks on Tuesday, bringing the total to 20 deaths, including seven peacekeepers in a week.

Human Rights Watch has blamed the killings on Ivorian militiamen and Liberian mercenaries from eastern Liberia.