Ivory Coast warlord agrees to disarm his forces

Last Updated: Saturday, April 23, 2011 - 21:56

Abidjan (Ivory Coast): A renegade warlord
in Ivory Coast on Saturday said he was ready to lay down his arms as
ordered by the new president, but said it would take time to
organise.

In an interview with The Associated Press today, Gen
Ibrahim "IB" Coulibaly said that one could not just dispose of
arms in the streets. He spoke from his heavily armed
stronghold within Abobo, a poor neighbourhood in Ivory Coast`s
largest city Abidjan.

He arrived at the interview in a three-car convoy,
guarded by a missile launcher set up on the back of a pickup
truck.

President Alassane Ouattara yesterday ordered
Coulibaly, who led two coups in Ivory Coast and commands the
Invisible Commando force, to lay down arms or be forcibly
disarmed.

Ouattara also ordered all combat units back to their
barracks the former rebel forces who installed him in power to
their stronghold in the central city of Bouake and troops who
fought for former President Laurent Gbagbo to their old
military camps.

Ouattara said that regular and paramilitary police
will be redeployed to take over security.

"He said lay down your arms. We will lay down our
arms. It is not a problem," said Coulibaly of Ouattara`s
order.

When asked why then he has so many arms around his
stronghold, Coulibaly said: "You don`t dispose of arms in the
street. There has to be a strategy."

Coulibaly, who began the battle against Gbagbo`s
troops and militia in Abidjan, said he wants his forces to
join the new army but is waiting to be invited.

He told the AP that he has 5,000 men under his
command. But the number appears under 1,000 from AP
assessments at his Abobo headquarters and a college there
where his commanders are training recruits.

Ouattara tried to distance himself at first from the
former rebels fighting in his name when they began a
lightening assault that brought them from Bouake and the west
to the gates of Abidjan within days. They had been accused of
atrocities during the offensive.

But when his pleas for an international intervention
to force Gbagbo from power went unheeded, he adopted them as
his forces and now calls them the Republican Forces of Ivory
Coast, or FRCI by the French initials.

Ouattara`s orders to disarm and return to barracks
came two days after the former rebels attacked Coulibaly`s
Invisible Commando force in his stronghold in Abobo, but were
repulsed.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, April 23, 2011 - 21:56

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