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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 November, 2004, 10:53 GMT
Expats flood out of Ivory Coast
Pro-government protestors in Abidjan, Ivory Coast
At least 1,000 people were injured as anti-French riots swept Abidjan
Foreigners are continuing to leave Ivory Coast in large numbers, after days of street violence and looting.

About 800 people are preparing to leave Abidjan on Sunday, and almost 5,000 Europeans have already been evacuated.

Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo has vowed to rebuild his air force after its destruction by the French military.

He has sacked his army chief of staff, Gen Matthias Doue, in favour of Col Philipe Mangou, who led the bombing of French peacekeepers by Ivorian planes.

Violent protests followed France's destruction of the Ivorian air force, in retaliation for the peacekeepers' deaths.

Mr Gbagbo has urged foreigners to stay, saying his government is taking steps to assure their safety.

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

About 220 Britons and people from other countries were flown out of the country in two RAF Hercules planes on Saturday.

An African Union (AU) summit on the crisis is due to open in Nigeria on Sunday, but the BBC's James Copnall in Ivory Coast says all sides there are convinced that the peace process is dead.

A civil war restarted 10 days ago when forces loyal to President Gbagbo broke a ceasefire with air raids on the rebel-held north.

Col Mangou, who commanded the strikes which killed nine French peacekeepers, is considered a hardliner, our correspondent says.

A presidential spokesman said Gen Doue had not been removed for disciplinary reasons, but to promote a new elite in the army.

The French government says several thousand Western citizens, mostly French, have left Ivory Coast in the last few days.

A military spokesman said hundreds more expatriates from 63 countries were awaiting departure at a French base.

Map of Ivory Coast

The Ivorian government accuses French soldiers of killing 62 Ivorians in clashes with demonstrators in the main city of Abidjan. More than 1,200 people were injured.

Expatriates from Europe were attacked by mobs in the city - but mixed-race Ivorians, members of the large Lebanese community and foreign Africans say they were also targeted.

French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier says there is proof a "certain number" of French women were raped in the violence, and that the alleged violations were being investigated.

Meanwhile, residents of the rebel-held north of the country say they will march on Abidjan on Monday.

They say they will ask for President Gbagbo to resign. It is not clear how they plan to cross the UN-patrolled buffer zone between the rebel and loyalist armies.

Talks planned

The West African nation has been split in half since rebels seized the north of the country in September 2002.

Elsewhere, President Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso flew to South Africa for talks with his counterpart in the country, Thabo Mbeki, who is trying to find a solution to the conflict in Ivory Coast.

President Mbeki will miss the AU summit in Nigeria on Sunday, however, as he has a previously arranged engagement in Europe.

The talks will bring together President Gbagbo, President Compaore and several other West African leaders.

The government of Ivory Coast has accused Burkina Faso of supporting the rebels who control northern Ivory Coast.

Burkina Faso has in turn accused the Ivorian government of backing a coup attempt against President Compaore earlier this year.


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