Monday, November 15, 2004

Rantburg Article

"Gbagbo 'insulted' by Chirac's fascism remark
Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo has dismissed as 'an insult' comments by French President Jacques Chirac that France will continue its UN-mandated action in the troubled west African nation and will not stand by while a situation of anarchy or fascism develops. 'President Chirac supported the only party in Ivory Coast for 40 years. What is closer to fascism than a one-party system? We were in prison under the regime of the sole party supported by France. It's an insult,' Gbagbo said in an interview published Monday in the Liberation daily here. Referring to the recent incident in the central Ivory Coast town of Bouake when Ivorian air force planes killed nine French soldiers, Gbagbo said that 'objectively France has taken the side of the rebels'.

The attack on the French troops was followed by a French air assault which destroyed Ivory Coast's small air force. The French retaliation 'left me speechless,' the Ivory Coast President said, adding that he found himself wondering 'what had pushed Chirac to such swift and brutal action'. Gbagbo also accused colonial power France of 'navel-gazing' and 'forever bringing the Ivory Coast story back to themselves' while 'my country is on the road to a transition towards democracy'. 'France is still very involved in our internal political life, notably with the presence of its army,' he added. Gbagbo compared the presence of French troops in Ivory Coast to the Soviet invasion of Prague. 'The French soldiers are already less present in the streets. Their massive deployment was intolerable; it resembled the invasion of Prague in 1968'. Finally the Ivorian leader bemoaned his own treatment in the crisis. 'I have developed democracy and I never harmed any French economic interest,' he declared."

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