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Ivorian warlords battle in Abidjan

Associated Press / April 26, 2011

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ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — Volleys of gunshots erupted again in Abidjan yesterday as a yearsold feud between rival warlords came to a head, threatening Ivory Coast’s fragile peace.

It is unclear if technocrat President Alassane Ouattara can control any of the six warlords who helped install him in power by ousting the arrested former strongman Laurent Gbagbo.

The latest fighting is between the two men who fomented the 2002 rebellion that divided the country between the rebel-held north and government run-south — two-time coup plotter Ibrahim “IB’’ Coulibaly and Defense Minister Guillaume Soro, who is also prime minister.

Coulibaly’s aides accused Soro’s camp yesterday of attacking their forces and plotting to assassinate their leader in an ambush on the road to a supposed meeting with Ouattara.

In 2004, the two men waged bloody battles for leadership in the central city of Bouake. Soro won and Coulibaly was forced into exile. Now there are fears their feud could destabilize Abidjan, the commercial capital and the West African nation’s biggest city where one-third of the 15 million people live.

Ouattara on Friday declared that the war for Abidjan ended with Gbagbo’s arrest April 11. He ordered Soro’s troops to return to their barracks elsewhere in the country and he ordered Coulibaly to disarm or have his weapons taken.

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