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Ousted president arrives in Togo

Ousted president Henri Konan Bedie left Cote d'Ivoire for Togo on Sunday, the new Ivoirian head, Brigadier General (rtd)
Robert Guey, announced on television. Bedie arrived in Lome on a French helicopter along with a group of 12 persons, including his immediate family, news organisations reported.

Media sources said the group did not include top government officials such as Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan and Defence Minister Bandama N'Guetta, who had sought refuge with Bedie in the military base of France's 43rd Marine Infantry, 43e BIMA, located close to the Houphouet Boigny International Airport.

Guey had stated at the weekend that while Bedie would be allowed to leave, ex-ministers would have to remain behind to hand over their ministries to their successors and to account for their actions. Guey, who heads a new all-military Conseil National de Salut Public (CNSP - National Public Salvation Council), said some of the ministers were in military custody.
"It's for their safety," said Guey, whose CNSP has nine members, ranging in rank from staff sergeant to general.

At least three former state officials, Emile Bombet (Home Affairs), Amara Essy (Foreign Affairs) and Laurent Dona Fologo, secretary-general of the former ruling Parti democratique de la Cote d'Ivoire (PDCI), which had governed the country since independence from France in 1960, were shown on television on Friday and Saturday.

Guey said a new government would be formed within the next few days after consultations with political parties. In the meantime, CNSP member Quartermaster General Lansana Palenfo met with permanent secretaries and other top public servants on Sunday and asked them to guarantee the day-to-day running of their ministries so as to ensure administrative continuity. Earlier Guey had announced that employees should report for work
as usual on Monday.

Asked whether the two main opposition leaders, Laurent Gbagbo of the Front Populaire Ivoirien (FPI) and former prime minister Alassane Ouattara would be part of the incoming government, Guey said the military intervention had been done on their behalf.

He also said he would seek the cooperation of political parties to obtain the scrapping of "tailor made" laws, an apparent reference to constitutional amendments made under the past government and designed, the opposition had claimed, to prevent Ouattara from being eligible to run for president.

The liberation of detained members of Ouattara's Rassemblement des Republicains (RDR) had been among demands made by soldiers who mutinied on Thursday and who, according to Guey, had decided that Bedie was no longer head of state after he refused their demands.

Calm appeared to have returned to the Ivoirian commercial capital on Sunday, two days after Guey announced Bedie's overthrow. In some residential neighbourhoods, people could be seen going shopping and to church. Taxis, 'woro woros (collective taxis) and gbakas (minibuses) were once more on the
streets after a two-day absence.

The day before, the CNSP had announced that it was taking stern action against looters, paraded about 50 of them before TV cameras, and issued a CNSP communique calling on soldiers who had requisitioned private vehicles during the mutiny to turn them in at the barracks by Saturday night.

Here and there, cars seized and then abandoned by the military - some of them stripped of anything detachable such as wheels and mirrors - could be seen on the streets of many Abidjan neighbourhoods. Some service stations were closed after having their pumping equipment damaged during the Thursday-Friday unrest. Soldiers stood guard at those gas stations that were
open, sometimes helping to direct the queuing motorists to pumps.

People could also be seen waiting at bakeries, whose operations have been disrupted by a daily curfew from 18:00 to 05:00 Hrs, imposed since Friday by the new military authorities.

Signs of the spate of looting that had followed the announcement of the takeover were also visible in parts of Abidjan, where the main targets seemed to have been streets with the heaviest concentrations of stores, both in the central business district, le Plateau, and the lower-income neighbourhoods of Adjame, Youpougon, Treichville and Koumassi.

In Rue 12, the hub of commercial activity in Treichville, there was hardly a store which had not been looted and many had also been burnt. In Yougougon's Rue Princesse, dealers in electronic equipment, vehicle spare parts and household appliances were among the hardest hit.

On the road leading to the airport, a building about 10 stories high that housed a cellular telephone company, computer firms and other offices was completely gutted. A security guard there said groups of young men had cleaned it on Friday of anything of value, such as computers and related equipment, before setting it on fire, claiming that the cellular company belonged to the Bedie family.

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: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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