National Salvation Council formed

Cote d'Ivoire's new military rulers announced on Saturday that a national public salvation council had been formed, that former cabinet ministers had been placed in military custody "for their protection" and that negotiations were being conducted on the
departure of ousted president Henri Konan Bedie.

The functions of the new Conseil National de Salut Public (CNSP) will include "creating the conditions necessary for the installation of real democracy with a view to organising fair and transparent elections," according to a communique read out by one of its members, Colonel Major Mathias Doue, at a news conference broadcast on radio.

"We have come to sweep the house clean," said de facto president Brigadier General Robert Guey, chairman of the CNSP, adding that the military would return to the barracks after that.

Guey also announced that a transitional government would be formed in the coming days. "Pending the formation of this government, 'prefets' (regional administrators) have been entrusted with the continuity of the State as well as order and security," he said, while permanent secretaries have been asked
to continue the day-to-day running of ministries.

AFP quoted a French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman as saying that Bedie, overthrown on Friday, was in a French military base near the Houphouet Boigny International Airport, just outside Abidjan. Guey said negotiations were being held with the French Foreign Ministry to decide on the mechanisms of Bedie's departure and that he wanted him to leave as quickly as possible
since he could not guarantee the population's reaction if he remained in Cote d'Ivoire for long.

Some cabinet ministers and the head of the Supreme Court were in military custody, according to Guey, who said the military had begun to "guarantee the safety" of some members of the former government. "We are going to invite them all, the heads of institutions, to come voluntarily so that we can ensure their safety in the barracks ... It's for their safety."

When the coup was announced on Friday, there was much cheering on some streets of the Ivoirian commercial capital. Footage on local TV on Friday night showed crowds of jubilating Ivoirians, most of them young men, jostling for a chance to go up to the soldiers and thank them for what they described as a liberation.

On Saturday, shots could still be head in parts of Abidjan. A media source told IRIN an armoured car had been seen in the populous suburb of Youpougon and that there had been much shooting there. There were also reports that shops and factories along the road that leads from the city centre to the
airport had been looted and a number of buildings burnt.

Some looters were arrested and about 50 of them, stripped to the waist, were displayed to journalists at the news conference. Guey said any of the looters who were members of the security forces "can already guess their fate", and that public safety would be guaranteed."We'll do our best to have the few bad eggs sanctioned severely," he said.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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