4,000 in Paris protest U.S. war in Iraq; France sends more troops to Ivory Coast

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat Dec 14 20:56:11 MST 2002


A significant and broad protest against the Iraq war took place in Paris.
The prospects for antiwar struggle in France will be strengthened as similar
protests develop against the intensifying French military role in the civil
war in the Ivory Coast, which is a semicolony of France.  One of the reasons
the French government goes along with Washington on Iraq, despite the
conflicts of interest, is that it counts on U.S. support or acquiescence for
maintaining the remains of the French empire in Africa.
Fred Feldman

CBC. 14 December 2002. Thousands of protesters snarl Paris traffic.
PARIS -- Thousands of people took to the streets in Paris Saturday to
voice their opposition to the possibility of war in Iraq.

Police said about 4,000 people marched through the city centre, starting
at mid-afternoon.

The placard-waving demonstrators, including children, wreaked havoc
with  downtown traffic as they made their way from Place de La
Republique towards Place de La Nation.

About 40 different activist groups organized the march in Paris and in
other major French cities. Some of the protesters said war on Iraq would be
motivated by economics and would lower the value of human life. Others
denounced the United States for spreading what they called terrorist
propaganda.

France's growing role in Ivory Coast combat

The Hindustan Times
December 13, 2002
France to boost troop strength in Ivory Coast: Foreign Ministry (excerpt)
Agence France-Presse   Paris, December 1

France said on Wednesday it would send more troops to
Ivory Coast right away and warned neighbouring
countries against getting involved in the war gripping
the West African nation.

It did not specify how many additional soldiers would
join some 1,500 French troops already deployed in the
world's top cocoa-producing nation, but a spokesman
said the number was significant. Further details were
expected on Thursday.
-------------------------------------------------------
Ivory Coast president signs controversial pact to
quash rebels (excerpt)

-France on Thursday was preparing to send 500 extra
troops to buttress its 1,200-strong contingent in
Ivory Coast....
-"This time, we are going one step further," Colonel
Baptiste said, adding that the French forces would
have orders to "open fire" on anybody threatening
their mission.
-The MPCI rebel group, which also announced a mass
enlistment process starting Thursday, warned France to
back off from the Ivorian crisis, saying it was an
"Ivorian affair."
Guillame Soro, who is leading the MPCI in deadlocked
peace talks in the Togolese capital Lome, said France
would incur the wrath of west African nations if it
"involved itself in one way or another in the crisis."


ABIDJAN, Dec 12 (AFP) - Ivory Coast President Laurent
Gbagbo Thursday signed a controversial pact with
political parties to tackle a three-month conflict as
the army enlisted thousands of new fighters and former
colonial ruler France prepared to send 500 extra
troops to defuse the crisis.

The ceremony was overseen by Togolese President
Gnassingbe Eyadema, mandated by West African nations
to mediate a truce between Gbagbo's government and
rebels, but the main opposition party said it had been
forced by Gbagbo into inking the document.

The accord, signed by seven parties including Gbagbo's
ruling Ivorian Popular Front, called on the Patriotic
Movement of Ivory Coast (MPCI) rebel group holding the
northern half of Ivory Coast since September 19 to
"free occupied towns" and to disarm.

It also recognised the "legitimacy" of Gbagbo's
government, elected to power in 2000.

But main opposition leader Alassane Ouattara, who was
barred from contesting the 2000 presidential polls on
the contentious grounds that he was not fully Ivorian,
said the pact was "null and void."

Ouattara, whose house was burnt after the September
uprising and who was sheltered by the French
ambassador in Abidjan for more than two months before
the French flew him out to Gabon, said his Rally of
Republicans (RDR) party had signed the agreement under
duress.

He told AFP from the Gabonese capital Libreville that
RDR official Kone Tiemeko was not mandated to sign on
the party's behalf and had only done so "under threats
from President Gbagbo.

The chief of staff of the French army, Colonel
Christian Baptiste, said the French operations in the
west African nation were entering a third phase aimed
"at ending the progressive destabilisation of Ivory
Coast."

"This time, we are going one step further," Colonel
Baptiste said, adding that the French forces would
have orders to "open fire" on anybody threatening
their mission.

The MPCI rebel group, which also announced a mass
enlistment process starting Thursday, warned France to
back off from the Ivorian crisis, saying it was an
"Ivorian affair."

International efforts have mounted to defuse the
crisis, complicated by the discovery of two mass
graves, reports of mercenary fighters, and Ivory
Coast's contention that neighbouring Burkina Faso was
behind the unrest, a charge hotly denied by that
country.


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