afrol News, 19 September - General Robert Gueï, the former military dictator of Côte d'Ivoire, was today found dead in Abidjan, assumedly involved in trying to overthrow the civilian government. A violent troop mutiny today had interrupted one year of peaceful developments and efforts to re-develop the country and to gain investors' trust.
There have been reports of shooting from Abidjan during the entire day and at least ten persons have been killed. Journalists from the French news agency AFP, visiting the Agban military camp, saw at least eight bodies of men, described as mutineers by troops loyal to the government. The camp had been retaken by government troops earlier today.
This afternoon, a spokesman of the Ivorian Ministry of Defence further confirmed the death of two prominent citizens; ex-military ruler Robert Gueï and Lt-Col Dagrou Loula, head of the Central military district. Diplomatic sources in Abidjan further claim that Interior Minister Emile Boga had been killed in a shoot-out.
The waves of violent actions, which are reported to have been executed by a group of 5-600 heavily armed rebel soldiers, are being called a coup attempt by some sources, while others call them a mutiny.
Ivorian Minister of Defence, Moise Lida Kouassi, today denied the attacks had been a coup attempt, saying nobody was trying to topple the government. Minister Kouassi said these actions, which he called "a mutiny", were to be attributed to displeased soldiers demanding not to be demobilised.
Others however spoke of a coup attempt, a theory that was strengthened by the apparent involvement of General Gueï in the incidents. The revolting soldiers had also taken several strategic points in Abidjan, which now have been secured by loyal troops, according to Prime Minister Affi N'Guessan.
While loyal troops slowly are regaining control of Abidjan, reports from other parts of the country confirm that the rebel soldiers are still active. Mutinous troops reportedly have taken control of the central town of Bouaké.
President Laurent Gbagbo is currently on an official visit to Italy. He has informed that he will not interrupt his visit because of the mutiny or coup attempt.
Côte d'Ivoire has been in the process of national reconciliation and regaining the trust of the outside world after a period of instability and political violence between 1999 and 2001. Being one of West Africa's largest economies, the regional power finally seemed to find its way back to peace and development. For the Ivorian economy, the news of further political violence will be seen as a major setback.