Ivorian newspapers are reporting rumours of attack from Liberia as ex-fighters of the Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL), once considered allies of President Laurant Gbabo, demand what they say is their war allowance from his government.
In a related development, a prominent story in Soir Info has reported that a huge number of Liberians, including former MODEL rebels have recently crossed over to Cote d’Ivoire. The article said that the sudden presence of those Liberians in the western region of the country has thrown fears among the populations. Some of the Liberians are reported as saying “we’ve come to collect our ID and voting card,” the paper said.
Another report in L’inter said that militiamen based in western Cote d’Ivoire are threatening to sabotage the political campaign and the October 31 vote. According to the paper, the militiamen are demanding the payment of their war allowances.
In the rebel-held zones, rebel forces also beat, harassed, and sometimes killed journalists. According to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), in January, Liberians fighting alongside the army killed Press Agency Correspondent Kloueu Gonzreu, and the party he was traveling with, for unspecified reasons in the western rebel-held zone near Toulepleu. In February, MJP rebel forces arrested Rene Dessonh, press correspondent for private independent newspaper Soir Info, near Man on suspicion of spying. MJP forces released Dessonh after 3 days detention without explanation.
These developments come as Cote d’Ivoire partitioned for years, prepares for general and presidential elections on 31 October.
Cote d’Ivoire’s, Soir Info (an independent daily) in its recent edition reported on instances where a top aide to President Gbagbo was held by militiamen operating in western Cote d’Ivoire over “war allowances.” It also hinted that a specter of an attack from MODEL, a former Liberian rebel movement, is hovering over this region, as they were said to be threatening to invade the western region to press the government in Cote d’Ivoire to pay them “war allowances.”
The article also said that the Ivorian government is concerned about the delay in the deployment of elements of the Center of Integrated Command (CCI) – the joint government and New Forces unit tasked with manning security during the electoral process; and the lack of means needed by the CCI to operate at a full scale.
The paper said looking into the possible aftermath of the October 31 presidential elections in Cote d’Ivoire, that the West African country is poised for “a historic voting,” but was quick to point out that the polls could be full of “risk”.
According to the paper, recent political rallies held across the country by various candidates vying for presidency have been marred by incidents, prompting the paper to ring the alarm bell about what it sees as “signs of imminent political deflagration.”
While Ivorian and foreign troops are jointly working to ensuring that security prevails during the October 31 presidential elections.