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Cote d'Ivoire's new military authorities on Monday lifted a dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed on Friday after the overthrow of President Henri Konan Bedie and held a meeting with political parties at which, a media source told IRIN, they said a new government would be formed next week.

The lifting of the curfew was announced on Monday on local radio and TV stations. Ivoirian and international media also reported that Bedie, who left Abidjan on Sunday for Togo, had arrived in Abuja on Monday. AFP reported that he had talks there with President Olusegun Obasanjo, one of the first African leaders to condemn the coup.

A source at a local newspaper told IRIN the new Conseil national de salut public (CNSP - National Public Salvation Council), headed by Brigadier General Robert Guey, a retired army officer, met with representatives of political parties and told them to hold internal discussions so as to come up with candidates for posts in the new cabinet.

"He said they should be people who love Cote d'Ivoire," the source told IRIN.

In a joint communique on 25 December, Nigeria and South Africa expressed "shock and dismay" at the military takeover and called for "the immediate restoration of the democratically elected government". Reuters reported that the United States, Britain and Canada also condemned the coup and called for a return to constitutional legality or early democratic elections.

Within Cote d'Ivoire, however, there has been widespread support for the coup from the public and politicians.

The Rassemblement des Republicains (RDR) said in a communique that it was "pleased that the takeover by the Conseil national de salut public took place without bloodshed.

"The RDR also extends its sincere thanks to our armed forces and to the (CNSP) for the release of the members of its leadership and its activists who had been arrested and jailed arbitrarily on 27th October 1999, following a peaceful and authorized demonstration."

Bedie's overthrow followed a mutiny begun Thursday by a section of the army, ostensibly over the non-payment of peacekeeping dues. One of the first things the mutineers did on Friday after the ouster was announced, was to free political prisoners, including 16 RDR leaders and militants who had been sentenced to one to two years in prison under a law that holds organisers of demonstrations liable for any violence accompanying such protests.

CNSP member Gen. Lansana Palenfo met on Sunday with the heads of the various security forces, and called on them to be vigilant and to resume work on Monday. He also called on security personnel to hunt down troublemakers.

According to media reports, thousands of common criminals escaped when the mutineers opened the prison doors on Friday. AFP reported that 24 prisoners died in the rush to get out.

Meanwhile, the former ruling Parti democratique de Cote d'Ivoire (PDCI) said Sunday in a communique broadcast on state radio, Radio Cote D'Ivoire, that it "noted that the CNSP has pledged to guarantee the safety of people and property, to restore state authority, and is envisaging to initiate broad-based consultations with political parties with the view of forming
a government of national unity.

"The PDCI calls on its activists and sympathizers to remain calm and serene and await any instructions from the leadership of their party," it 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: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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