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Wednesday, 25 September, 2002, 11:26 GMT 12:26 UK
Ivory Coast rebel speaks out
French troops
French troops are also on standby
The military uprising which started in Ivory Coast on 19 September has been called both a coup and a mutiny. The soldiers who took up arms against the government deny it is a coup but say they are fighting against "dictatorship" and against their treatment as "slaves".

The government has accused the rebels of being backed by foreign governments. This is denied by the rebels who say that the government is using Angolan troops in their attempts to retake the town of Bouake.

A member of the rebel force still holding the town of Bouake, Corporal Kwasi, gave an interview to the BBC's Network Africa programme:

Why are you fighting ?

We started the rebellion because the current regime is a dictatorship hiding under the guise of democracy. But the people living in Ivory Coast know that it is not a democracy.

The current government tends to suppress any form of rebellion, even when there are demonstrations by workers. And within the army, they used us for three years and now they want to sack us.

This is why we are fighting.

Who is your leader ?

For the time being I don't intend to answer this question.

Did you try to take over power in Ivory Coast - was it a coup ?

Any coup in Ivory Coast always targets television and radio first because this is the way to reach out to the people. But what happened in our case radio and television were not targeted, we targeted military objectives

Yes, but there was an attack in three different places at the same time, so it was really well organised..

Well it looks like a coup but it's not a coup. Soldiers organised it. We are very organised. They trained us for three years and now they want to sack us. We are very organised.

Did you receive support from a foreign country ?

The government must stop because they received foreign support but we did not receive any support from a foreign government. It is only Ivorian soldiers who are fighting on our side against injustice.

We have no outside support.

What do you want, more money as a soldier ?

We want to be acknowledged for what we have done in the army, We have been used like slaves. But now our fight has reached another dimension.

Can we young soldiers now take the risk of discussing with President Gbagbo what are we going to get out of it? Is he not going to betray us ?

How many are you ?

There are over 500 of us - 500.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Corporal Kwasi of the rebels on Network Africa
"We have been used like slaves."

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25 Sep 02 | Africa
22 Sep 02 | Africa
24 Sep 02 | Africa
24 Sep 02 | Africa
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