Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Friday, 2 October 2009 14:23 UK

Ivory Coast coup leader reburied

Robert Guei
No-one has ever been tried for the killings of Gen Guei and his family

More than seven years after his death, former Ivorian coup leader Robert Guei is being reburied in his home village.

He seized power in 1999, lost elections and was then killed in mysterious circumstances in a failed 2002 coup.

A row over who was responsible for the general's death meant his body remained unburied until four years ago.

But at the request of his family, his remains were disinterred from a tomb in Abidjan to be reburied in an official ceremony in the west of Ivory Coast.

'No rest'

The death has left a lot of bitterness in his western home region and some mourners have expressed their distress at the long wait for the former military leader to find his final resting place.

He died during difficult times during the crisis, so we didn't have the time to do the ceremonies like they should be done
Sebastien Dano Djedje
Reconciliation minister

"Four years in the freezer, then buried in the house, then dug up again and brought here [to the mortuary] - taken again to be reburied. I really don't think he's in peace," a relative told the BBC.

The BBC's John James in Abidjan says the events of the morning of General Guei's death are still far from clear.

But in the minutes after a rebellion began on 19 September 2002, he was suspected of being involved, and despite taking shelter in the main cathedral he was found by the military, dragged out and killed along with his family.

No-one has ever been tried for the killings, but his political party, the UDPCI, accused President Laurent Gbagbo's government of involvement.

Soldiers carry Gen Guei's coffin
Gen Guei was buried in a family tomb in Abidjan four years ago

President Gbagbo defeated Gen Guei in an election 10 months after his 1999 coup.

Correspondents say the government initially objected to his being buried in his home village of Kabahouma, fearing that it could become an opposition rallying point.

But Minister for National Reconciliation Sebastien Dano Djedje said the time was right for a home burial.

"He died during difficult times during the crisis, so we didn't have the time to do the ceremonies like they should be done," he said.

"But today the state - through its president - has decided to organise a final farewell to this person, who merits it, as a former head of state," he said.

The civil war sparked by the 2002 coup attempt split the country in half with rebels holding to north and Mr Gbagbo's government controlling the south.

A United Nations-backed peace process brokered a national unity government.

Elections are now scheduled to take place in November this year, but are likely to be delayed.

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