Ivory Coast warlord agrees to disarm his forces
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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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