Ivory Coast protest at French embassy

Sat, Apr 9, 2011, 01:00

ABOUT 20 members of the 250-strong Ivory Coast community in Ireland protested outside the French embassy in Dublin yesterday against what they called the international community’s “military invasion” of their country.

Supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo, they say the French are leading moves to “impose” a more pro-business figure, in Allassane Ouattara, as the country’s new president.

Mr Ouattara is recognised by the international community as the victor in the November 28th presidential election.

Synzi Dadie, spokesman for the protesters, said there had been electoral fraud behind Mr Outtara’s election victory. He said Mr Ouattara was supported by the West as he would protect international business interests there.

“The Cote d’Ivoire is the richest French-speaking country in Africa and the biggest cocoa producer in the world. They want to protect their interests in all that.”

He asked why the UN and the French army were supporting MR Outtarra’s rebel forces if they were there to protect citizens. “Their presence there is clearly political,” he said.

The protesters shouted slogans such as “Sarkozy, terrorist” and waved the Ivory Coast flag. They also hung two banners from the embassy wall, saying, “Gbagbo is our President, in paix [peace]”.

They handed in a letter to the embassy staff, with a series of proposals, the first of which was an immediate ceasefire.

Among the other proposals were that the “French army and UN army stop their involvement in the conflict and go back to their camp; French and UN to leave Cote d’Ivoire immediately; rebels to be disarmed completely.”

They called for an election at the end of the year, to allow time for the country to grieve over recent losses of life.

“The election should not include the UN or the French.”