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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 March, 2004, 03:30 GMT
Ivory Coast coup claims denied
By Lara Pawson
BBC, Abidjan

Alphonse Djedje Mady, secretary-general of the PDCI
Mr Djedje Mady denies his party is involved in plotting a coup
Political tension in Ivory Coast has intensified after the ruling party accused opposition forces of plotting a coup with rebels.

But a senior official of the opposition Democratic Party (PDCI) has firmly denied the allegations.

"The PDCI has never staged a coup, and it never will," Mr Mady told the BBC.

"The basis of our philosophy is non-violence and respect for justice - respect for the other, tolerance and dialogue," he added.

Mr Mady has been operating in the Ivorian political arena for several decades.

He described the current political crisis as the worst in the country's history.

He has called on President Laurent Gbagbo to exercise reason and restore calm among the people, but some observers think the plea may have come too late.

Mr Mady's comments came in response to a speech on Friday by the leader of the Ivorian ruling party, Affi N'Guessan, who said the plotters wanted to destabilise Ivory Coast ahead of next month's deployment of several thousand UN troops in the country.

The UN peacekeeping force is due to help implement a peace agreement with the rebels.

Mr N'Guessan also called on its militant youth supporters, otherwise known as the Young Patriots, to mobilise and block all attempts to carry out coups.

This week, the Young Patriots were seen kicking a lawyer to the ground in the centre of Abidjan and marching on a hotel where opposition politicians reside.

It is perhaps not surprising that the atmosphere in Abidjan this weekend is tense and characterised by an uneasy calm.

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