US denies Ivory Coast coup claim

Emile Guirieoulou

Emile Guirieoulou

The United States has emphatically rejected assertions by officials in the Ivory Coast that it is plotting to overthrow the government of the West African country. For weeks now, Washington has been echoing calls by the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union for Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo to stand down, after losing in the November 28 national elections. But Gbagbo’s government, which controls most of the military, rejects the alleged election victory of his political rival Alassane Ouattara, and refuses to hand over power. On December 29, the Ivory Coast’s Minister of the Interior, Emile Guirieoulou, told a press conference that the United States had dispatched at least ten German “mercenaries” to its embassy in Abidjan, as part of a multinational Western plot to overthrow Laurent Gbagbo. He told journalists that the German mercenaries were onboard a US-operated flight from Algiers to Bouake, Ivory Coast’s second-largest city. They were disguised as a terrorism investigators, he alleged, and were supposedly tasked with probing a December 16 rocket-propelled grenade attack on the American embassy in Abidjan. But Guirieoulou said that the Ivorian government has “good reasons to think that the 10 Americans [sic] who disembarked are mercenaries”. But speaking to Agence France Presse, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner dismissed Guirieoulou’s allegations as “ridiculous” and “absurd”, and suggested that Washington would work strictly diplomatically with international actors “to impose sanctions on Gbagbo and his supporters”. Relations between the United States and the Ivory Coast have deteriorated significantly since the 1980s, when the West African nation was considered a strong backer of Washington’s policies in the United Nations.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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