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PM: Civil war is under way in Ivory Coast

Jan. 1, 2011 at 3:39 PM
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ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Ivory Coast is already in a state of civil war, Prime Minister Guillaume Soro said Saturday.

Soro said at least 200 people have been killed and another 1,000 wounded by fighting since the disputed presidential election, The Daily Telegraph reported. Soro resigned from President Laurent Gbagbo's government when Gbagbo claimed victory, but was reappointed by former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara, who has been recognized by international bodies as the winner.

"This is what's at stake: Either we assist in the installation of democracy in Ivory Coast or we stand by indifferent and allow democracy to be assassinated," Soro said.

Gbagbo, meanwhile, said the United Nations, the African Union and other international organizations, are staging a coup against him, the BBC said.

In a New Year's Eve speech in Abidjan, he said pressure on him to resign was "an attempted coup d'etat carried out under the banner of the international community." Gbagbo singled out France, the country's original colonizer, as his primary opponent.

"When it's something to do with Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa, France speaks and the rest follow," Gbagbo said.

The United Nations has kept 9,500 peacekeepers in the small country wracked by political instability since 2002. The much-delayed presidential runoff was intended to unite Ivory Coast after 10 years of north-south division.

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