- The Washington Times - Monday, January 27, 2003

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast Loyalist mobs, enraged by a French-brokered peace deal they say gives too much power to Ivorian rebels, attacked the French Embassy and army base yesterday and beat foreigners. President Laurent Gbagbo urged his people to accept the agreement for ending the four-month insurgency.
"There are two ways to end a conflict. Either you win the war" or submit to negotiation and compromise, the Ivorian leader said in Paris, where two weeks of talks between his government and rebels led to the power-sharing peace deal, which Mr. Gbagbo's security forces called "humiliating."
"I did not win the war," he said.
As he spoke, smoke from fires and explosions filled the sky over the high-rises of Abidjan, a sprawling commercial hub of 3 million people and Ivory Coast's main city.
For hours, French forces fired tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons to hold back the rioters. Most attacks concentrated on the French Embassy and other symbols of Ivory Coast's former colonial ruler, blamed for Mr. Gbagbo's coming home yesterday with anything less than a clear victory.
Thousands of people some waving sticks and clutching rocks converged on the French Embassy and set fires outside. Men armed with machine guns took positions on the embassy roof. French military helicopters buzzed across the city carrying reinforcements.
Elsewhere, mobs looted a French school and French cultural center, and ransacked a main shopping center and a private radio station. Men waving sticks and rocks set up roadblocks, attacking the few foreigners who ventured out to reach safety or their families.
Embassies urged their citizens to stay indoors.
"France has disappointed us. They gave power to people who took up arms against Ivory Coast. They have opened Pandora's box," said Ble Goude, an influential youth leader behind weeks of massive pro-government rallies that sometimes turned violent.
The peace deal triggered vastly different responses in Bouake, the northern rebel stronghold.
Supporters banged drums and danced in the streets, celebrating their chance to share in a transition government to lead Ivory Coast, the world's largest cocoa producer, until elections in 2005.
Sharing power is a key part of the accord to end the only war ever in Ivory Coast.
The uprising erupted Sept. 19 with a failed coup attempt against Mr. Gbagbo.

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