Ivorian Rebels Control Northern Borders
From ORBIT Abidjan Correspondent
Ivorian soldiers who revolted against their government last month are now said to be in control of the
country’s borders with Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali, all in the north and northwest. Rebel troops are
also moving southwest toward Liberia’s Nimba county border from their stronghold in Vavoua.
The rebels’ hold of the northern town of Korhogo is said to be particularly important as it is one of the
country’s most important population centers close to Burkina Faso. The town is now the mutineers northern
command center. The country's second largest city of Bouake is still in the hands of the mutineers.
The Ivorian government has repeatedly said a neighboring country is providing military support to the
rebels, a reference generally seen as Burkina Faso, which has had strained relations with Abidjan in the
past. More than a million Burkinabes live in the Ivory Coast, where they come for economic reasons.
Twice now, the government of Burkina Faso has denied involvement and has in turn accused the Ivorian
government of inciting attacks against Burkinabes in the Ivory Coast. At the onset of the conflict on
September 19, government operatives and southerners reportedly razed houses of foreigners, mainly
Burkinabes, in the commercial capital, Abidjan. President Laurant Gbagbo yesterday appealed against the
targeting of aliens.
The rebels movement toward the Liberian border is also raising concerns as there are speculations about
Liberia’s involvement. At the summit meeting of the Economic Community of West African States in Ghana
last week, Liberian President Charles Taylor and his Burkina counterpart are said to have given names of
"mercenaries" which they said had recently left their countries. The reason for allowing mercenaries to
enter and leave these countries at will were not explained, but the two governments have been said to be
sympathetic to the late former Ivorian Military Head of State Robert Guei, who was killed on the first
day of the current rebellion. The Abidjan government said Guei was the leader of a coup attempt.
Taylor had been frequently accused of sending fighters of his now defunct "National Patriotic Front" to
form part of Guei's security before and after the General's leadership. Our Abidjan correspondent says
the Ivorian rebels' saying they are members of an organization called the "Ivorian Patriotic Movement"
rings a tone similar to the Taylor rebel organization. The correspondent reports however that there have
been no hard facts linking the Ivorian rebellion with the regime in Monrovia.