Ivory Coast: November 6, 2002

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The office of the Ivory Coast's President Gbagbo denied that South African mercenaries were fighting alongside his country's army on 31 October even as western wire services were reporting their presence in Adibjan. At the time, the rumor was that 40 mercenaries were already in-country and another 160 were enroute. An unnamed source told Reuters that the plan was put together by a French "godfather", but relied mostly on South African manpower and was backed by Russian-built helicopters including Mi-8s for transport and at least one Mi-24 "Hind" gunship. 

Meanwhile, Nigeria will not supply troops for a 2,000 man peacekeeping force mandated by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Nigeria is currently involved in a standoff with its neighbour Cameroon over the disputed Bakassi Peninsula. However, Gambia will is considering sending 137 troops but no one else has stepped up to the plate.

Any peacekeeping troops who are sent would receive American logistical support, primarily through one contracted IL-76, food and fuel, as well as equipment from the U.S.-run ECOWAS depot in Sierra Leone. The total value of the U.S. military assistance, which should last from six months to a year, is worth $2 million.

Meanwhile, the hatred remains firmly in place. Thousands of rebel supporters demonstrated in Bouake on 3 November, cheering a rebel leader who promised that they would never lay down their arms. - Adam Geibel



 

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