Ivory Coast exiles set up strategic command in Ghana: UN panel
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Exiles supporting Ivory Coast's former President Laurent Gbagbo have established a base in neighboring Ghana from which they are working to destabilize the current Ivorian government, according to excerpts from a new report by a U.N. expert panel.
The supporters of Gbagbo, who is awaiting trial in The Hague for crimes against humanity, have a "military structure," have hired mercenaries in Ghana and Liberia and have established several training camps in eastern Liberia, the report said.
"They (Ivorian exiles) have established a strategic command in Ghana," it said, adding that their goal was to "destabilize" the government in Ivory Coast and return to power.
The observations were in an interim report from the so-called U.N. Group of Experts, which monitors compliance with the Ivory Coast sanctions regime.
The group plans to discuss its report with members of the U.N. Security Council's Ivory Coast sanctions committee on Friday, U.N. diplomats said.
Excerpts and information from the report, which also mentioned some less serious potential violations of the U.N. sanctions regime by the Ivorian government, were given to Reuters by a U.N. official and Security Council diplomats.
The findings appear to add credence to allegations made by the Ivorian authorities that military and civilian officials of the former government, many of whom fled across the border at the end of a brief conflict last year, are continuing their fight against President Alassane Ouattara's government from Ghanaian soil.
The experts said that some pro-Gbagbo field commanders, collectively known as "the generals," boasted nicknames like "Western Tarzan," "Bob Marley," "Bushdog" and "Iron Jacket." Continued...