Street Fights in Abidjan

David Altman altman_d at
Tue Oct 24 17:39:00 MDT 2000

Troops Crack Down On Angry Crowds
October 24, 2000 By Ofeibea Quist-Arcton
Abidjan   Cote d'Ivoire's commercial capital, Abidjan, echoed with the richochet
gunfire as troops shot live ammunition into the air to prevent demonstrators
from advancing towards the presidential palace of General Robert Guei who
has declared himself the winner of Sunday's election.   Agencies reported that
one person died in the disturbances apparently aftera
burst of gunfire.   Hundreds of rubber slippers were strewn all over the streets
of the central
business district as the demonstrators fled to avoid the tear gas that filled
air. There was shouting and screaming as soldiers used out truncheons and
sticks, whipping and kicking the demonstrators, including many women. At one
point at least a dozen women were dragged from nearby huts,
stripped bare and whipped as police forced them into waiting vehicles. One
young woman in a flimsy purple t-shirt with blood streaming from her head
and face, beat on the glass door of a building housing international
journalists, begging to be let in.   The veteran socialist leader, Laurent
Gbagbo, who had been confident of
victory, held a press conference and told his supporters to come out onto the
streets to demonstrate their opposition to the results announcement. For his
part, General Guei has expressed his thanks to the Ivorian people for
voting him in.   France, the former colonial power, has said that it will not
accept the result.
French foreign minister, Hubert Vedrine, said: "What we are seeing in
Abidjan is an attempt to take power by force. France will not accept this. Nor
will the European Union. They will have to face the consequences." The site of
the clashes was once again calm at nightfall. The National
Elections Commissioner Honoré Guie and the his staff who were earlier taken
to the Presidency have reportedly been released but their whereabouts are
not known.

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