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Mobs in Ivory Coast Attack French Embassy, Army Base

January 27, 2003|From Times Wire Services

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — Stone-throwing mobs attacked the French Embassy and army base in Ivory Coast on Sunday as thousands marched to protest a French-brokered peace accord that they say yields too much to rebels.

The massive protests underlined the problems facing the power-sharing deal agreed to by President Laurent Gbagbo in Paris last week to end the four-month war that has thrown the world's top cocoa producer into chaos.

Soldiers from France, the former colonial power, used tear gas and riot-control stun grenades to drive demonstrators from their military base in Abidjan and from the embassy, where marchers started a small fire and damaged the gate.

In Paris, Gbagbo appealed for calm and defended the accord.

"People have to understand that you don't leave a war in the same way as you leave a gala dinner," he said. "There are two ways of getting out of a war. You win militarily, or if you don't win, you negotiate and compromise.... I did not win the war."

Ivory Coast was plunged into crisis by a coup attempt Sept. 19. The putsch failed, but the ensuing civil war has left hundreds dead, displaced more than a million and split the country of 16 million along ethnic lines.

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