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Last Updated: Monday, 21 January 2008, 17:48 GMT
Ivorian denies coup plot charges
Sergeant Ibrahim Coulibaly
Ibrahim Coulibaly played a key role in the 1999 coup
The alleged ring-leader of a coup plot in Ivory Coast, Sergeant Ibrahim Coulibaly, has strongly denied that he planned to overthrow the government.

Speaking to the BBC from exile in Ghana, he said the government had fabricated the allegation to prevent him contesting elections this year.

The Ivorian security forces last week charged 10 people with plotting a coup last December.

Sergeant Coulibaly said he was planning to contest the presidential poll.

He used to be a close ally of the New Forces former rebels, who still control the north of the country.

'No weapons'

The authorities have released a video which they say shows Sergeant Coulibaly, known in Ivory Coast as "IB", plotting a coup.

He said the video had been manipulated and that he would return to Ivory Coast to defend himself.

Ivory Coast map
He also said that coups were not staged with cameras.

"Who did they arrest who was carrying weapons?" he asked the BBC Afrique.

"I reject all the accusations."

He played a key role in Ivory Coast's first coup - in 1999.

The identities of those charged have not been revealed but the group includes nationals of Mali, The Gambia, Ivory Coast and two Frenchmen.

The UN has questioned the circumstances of their arrest in December.

Sergeant Coulibaly was in Benin at the time of the alleged coup plot.

The day after the alleged attack the government of Benin said he was not welcome in the country any more, saying he had been using Benin as a base to disrupt the Ivorian peace process.

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