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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 November, 2004, 03:00 GMT
Ivory Coast urges expats to stay
French soldiers evacuate a boy from a hotel in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
European nations have been evacuating their nationals from Ivory Coast
President Laurent Gbagbo of Ivory Coast has urged foreigners fleeing the violence in his country to stay.

His government was taking steps to assure their safety, Mr Gbagbo said.

His statement came as public services were restored in the north of the West African country, after several days of protests and looting.

Violence erupted in the south last week after Ivorian forces bombed rebel-held towns in the north and killed nine French peacekeepers and a US citizen.

Anti-French riots followed last weekend after France destroyed the Ivorian air force, in retaliation for the peacekeeper deaths.

Regional leaders are to hold an emergency crisis summit on Sunday.


Hundreds of Europeans were evacuated on Friday amid the continuing exodus of foreigners from the government-held south.

British citizens were the latest to leave, after their country deployed troops to neighbouring Ghana to help with the evacuation of some 400 civilians.

29 Sept: Parliament fails to meet deadline for political reforms promised to rebels
15 Oct: Rebels ignore deadline for disarmament
28 Oct: Rebels withdraw ministers from unity government
4 Nov: Government aircraft begin daily air strikes on rebel-held territory in north
6 Nov: An air strike leaves nine French soldiers dead; France responds by destroying Ivorian planes
7 Nov: Thousands of Gbagbo supporters demonstrate against the French in Abidjan; UN condemns Ivorian attacks
8,9 Nov: Anti-French rioting in Abidjan
10 Nov: French begin evacuating civilians

French President Jacques Chirac pledged that France would act "tirelessly" to ensure the safety of foreigners in its former colony.

His comments came as French military officials said some French women were raped in the violence that swept through Ivory Coast's main southern city of Abidjan.

In five days of looting and demonstrations, the government says 62 people were killed and nearly 1,300 were injured as French troops repulsed demonstrators.

The Ivorian minister of justice has said France should be tried in the International Court of Justice for its actions in Ivory Coast.

Crisis talks

Meanwhile, South African-brokered peace meditations with Ivorian opposition leaders are continuing in Pretoria, without the participation of the main rebel group.

The New Forces says it will join talks only if President Gbagbo resigns.

The African Union (AU) chairman, Nigeria's President Olusegun Obasanjo, has invited leaders from Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Libya and Ivory Coast to talks on the crisis.

People try to call via their mobile phones in the rebel-held city of Bouake, northern Ivory Coast
The civil war, which has split the country in two, resumed a week ago

The Ivorian armed forces re-started hostilities after missed deadlines for reforms and disarmament convinced all sides a peace process would not work, the BBC's James Copnall in Abidjan says.

The United Nations Security Council has postponed discussion on the crisis to allow the South African president to hold talks with the opposition leaders.

The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) says 5,000 Ivorians have fled to Liberia. It says it is concerned that more will follow, which could possibly destabilise Liberia's fragile peace.


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