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Last Updated: Monday, 1 December, 2003, 10:08 GMT
Ivory Coast soldiers call for war
Chief of staff Colonel Soumaila Bakayoko (l) and rebel leader Guillaume Soro (r) inspecting troops last month
Tension is growing between rebels and the army
Soldiers in Ivory Coast have gone on television to urge President Laurent Gbagbo to resume war with rebel forces which hold half of the country.

They also demanded the resignation of the army chief.

The soldiers said were not attempting a coup, and that they only wanted to "get rid of" the rebels.

On Saturday foreign troops monitoring a fragile ceasefire used teargas to stop supporters of Mr Gbagbo from marching on the rebel stronghold.

Unscheduled address

Ivorian state TV on Sunday evening interrupted its programmes, saying a group of soldiers had forced its way into the television building in the main city of Abidjan.

We are telling the whites to leave the front line... in 48 hours we will liberate the country
Soldiers' statement

The soldiers read a statement saying: "We are asking the president to allow us to resume the war."

They demanded that peacekeepers let them move to rebel-controlled areas.

They said they had what they needed to "liberate" the country within 48 hours.

"We are asking (Army Chief of Staff) General Doue and Touvoli of the National Gendarmerie to resign," the statement added.

"It is not a coup. We support the president of the republic."

Unravelling process

On Saturday, about 200 hardline supporters of the president, reportedly accompanied by soldiers, were dispersed by French peacekeepers as they tried to reach the rebel stronghold of Bouake

President Laurent Gbagbo, at a ceremony for those killed during the war
Gbagbo has been facing insurgents for more than a year
About 4,000 French troops and 1,300 West African soldiers are monitoring a fragile ceasefire signed in May.

The rebel New Forces hold the north, while Mr Gbagbo is in control of the largely Christian and animist south.

In September the New Forces pulled out of a power-sharing government, accusing the president of not honouring a French-brokered peace settlement.

The rebellion was launched in September 2002 in the former French colony, with northerners accusing southerners of systematic discrimination.


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