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Cablegate: Disarmament of Militias Off to Symbolic Start

VZCZCXRO5746
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHAB #0551 1441413
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 241413Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY ABIDJAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3010
INFO RUEHZK/ECOWAS COLLECTIVE
RUEHDS/AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA 0098
RUEPGBA/CDR USEUCOM INTEL VAIHINGEN GE//ECJ2/ECJ3/ECJH5//

UNCLAS ABIDJAN 000551

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PARM KPKO PGOV IV
SUBJECT: DISARMAMENT OF MILITIAS OFF TO SYMBOLIC START


1. (U) Ivoirian government officials organized a ceremony in
the town of Guiglo on May 19 to mark the resumption of the
disarmament and demobilization of militias (DDM) in the
volatile west of the country. At the ceremony, attended by
President Gbagbo, FANCI commander General Mangou, and Acting
ONUCI SRSG Abou Moussa, members of the Resistance Force of
the Greater West, an umbrella group of western militias
commanded by Guiglo Third Deputy Mayor Denis Maho Glofiei,
turned in a reported total of 1,027 weapons. Maho
symbolically handed over two weapons to Gbagbo who then gave
them to Abou Moussa. Some of the weapons were later burned.

2. (U) Maho reportedly told the President that, "he who
after this ceremony still carries a weapon does not answer to
us. He will be a bandit subject to the laws of the
Republic." In the days before the ceremony, according to a
newspaper owned by the former ruling PDCI party, Gbagbo
confidant and former Defense Minister Kadet Bertin traveled
in the West and told militias there that "he who does not
want to turn in his weapon will be considered a bandit. And
he could be treated as a bandit."

3. (SBU) Publicly, Abou Moussa called the handover
"courageous" and "patriotic," but privately he admitted to
the Ambassador that the handover was largely symbolic.
Critics, for example, charged that the weapons that were
turned in were old or in disrepair. (The French Ambassador
commented that half the weapons were of local manufacture and
the other half consisted of hunting rifles.) In addition,
even though, per the Ouaga accord, ONUCI is supposed to
receive weapons turned over as part of DDM and DDR, Abu
Moussa said the UN had not been part of the planning for
Guiglo and had in fact only been informed that the ceremony
would actually take place the day before it occurred.
Nevertheless, in another meeting with selected foreign
Embassies, Abou Moussa praised the government,s commitment
to DDM and commented that "It,s a start."

4. (SBU) An NGO rep who attended the event, told emboff that
it was the most elaborate such event that he had witnessed
(he had attended two other DDM ceremonies under Prime
Ministers Diarra and Banny). However, while he characterized
the event as symbolically important, he allowed that there is
no plan in place to proceed with real disarmament of the
various militia groups in the west.

5. (SBU) Comment: President Gbagbo,s participation in this
kickoff ceremony may mark a more serious commitment on the
part of the government to proceed with DDM. However, it will
have to go beyond symbolism and actually proceed with
disarmament of the militias. Otherwise, the New Forces are
unlikely to initiate any DDR of their own ex-combatants. As
with other key aspects of the Ouaga accord, the government
needs to set out a plan of action and carry it out.
HOOKS

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