Côte d'Ivoire

Côte d'Ivoire: Protest in front of US and French embassies

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ABIDJAN, 28 January (IRIN) - Pro-government youths, who had since the beginning of the Ivorian crisis demonstrated several times, on Tuesday held another protest in front of the embassies of France and United States in Abidjan. The protest, they said, was to denounce France for "putting the country on its knees" and ask the US to intervene in the four month-old crisis.
Businesses and shops remained closed in Le Plateau, Abidjan's business district where several foreign missions are located, as hundreds of young men and women marched towards the two embassies, which are about 100 meters apart. The "Young Patriots" chanted slogans but were non-violent.

United Nations agencies, the African Development Bank and other embassies remained closed for the second day.

Tuesday's protest followed a meeting between President Laurent Gbagbo and the youth leaders during which Gbagbo told them the Paris agreement was just "propositions." Sources said Gbagbo told the youth "not to worry" because he would never "betray" them.

Military sources told IRIN that Gbagbo also met with national army officials on Tuesday who expressed concern about the Paris agreement. On Sunday, the army spokesman had said that some points in the agreement tended to "humiliate" the army, the State and the population.

The president was expected to hold more meetings with other opinion groups in the country before addressing the nation at a later time.

On Monday, security in Abidjan's was volatile as young men and women manned roadblocks -using tree trunks, tires and garbage- and searched cars. The youths, who had been on the streets since Saturday protesting against Friday's Paris agreement, accuse France of "threatening Ivorian sovereignty". Several French-owned schools and businesses have been ransacked.

Meanwhile, news agencies reported on Tuesday that fighting had broken out between two ethnic communities in Agboville, 80 km north of Abidjan. The agencies said eight people had been killed and a mosque and church burnt down.

Independent sources told IRIN that fighting, using rocks, sticks and others, had taken place between the Dioula community and the Abbey community. However the sources could not confirm the motives nor the extent of the fighting.

For IRIN coverage of the Cote d'Ivoire crisis go to: http://www.irinnews.org/frontpage.asp?SelectRegion=West_Africa&SelectCountry=Cote_d_Ivoire

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