19 September 2002

Cote d'Ivoire: Ivory Coast Capital Wakes Up to Gunfire

Kampala — Heavy gunfire from small arms and some heavy guns rocked the Abidjan, Ivory Coast's capital, this morning at 4:00 GMT (7:00am E. African time).

Ivorian Prime Minister, Pascal N'guessan, has said disgruntled soldiers against demobilisation from the army are responsible for the fighting. Fighting was also reported in other parts of the country.

N'guessan says loyal troops have secured all strategic points. Earlier, a senior official told Reuters that it is "definitely a coup attempt".

President Laurent Gbagbo is currently on an official visit to Italy, but, N'guessan, has said government is trying "restore calm".

"It's not important to label what is going on. What's important is to manage the situation, and we're trying to manage the situation and restore calm," he said.

Ivory Coast, previously a haven of political and economic stability hit the rocks after the overthrow of president Henri Konan Bedi in 1999. Relative stability was restored in after a stormy election 2000 that brought Gbagbo to power.

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