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Tuesday, 23 October, 2001, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Tension mounts in Ivory Coast
Former military leader Robert Guei with wife
Guei says he will not think of attending peace talks now
By Mark Doyle in Abidjan

The Ivory Coast Government has sent negotiators to the west of the country to meet former military ruler General Robert Guei.

There has been widespread unrest in recent years

The meeting, due to begin on Tuesday, comes amid rising tensions related to allegations that some of his followers plotted to mount a military coup.

The negotiations follow the arrest of General Guei's aide, Captain Fabien Coulibaly, and subsequent government allegations that they had foiled a coup plot.

General Guei seized power in a coup in December 1999, but lost elections held the next year. Although the country was known historically for its relative stability, it has been wracked by unrest since the coup.


The negotiators sent to General Guei's village near the Liberian border are members of a government-appointed reconciliation forum trying to resolve the countries political problems.

They face an uphill task.

General Guei has been holed up in his village since last year and has signalled he will not think of attending reconciliation talks until his aide is released.

A spokesman for the negotiators said their immediate aim was to persuade General Guei to attend the reconciliation forum.

This is, on the face of it, is a very tall order.

Government officials say General Guei's aide is to be charged, among other things, with trying to obtain the keys to an armoury in Abidjan in order to threaten state security.

In other words, they say he was planning to mount a coup.

A state-controlled newspaper, Fraternite Matin, has reported that government security forces have reinforced their presence near General Guei's village.

See also:

23 Oct 01 | Africa
Guei demands aide's release
16 Oct 01 | Africa
Ex-president back in Ivory Coast
09 Oct 01 | Africa
Key leaders snub Ivorian summit
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