Despite an apparent calming of tensions in Ivory Coast the exodus of foreigners from the African state has not diminished.
Most of those leaving are French and Ivory Coast’s former colonial ruler is spearheading the evacuation of nationals from other countries. A steady stream of mainly European nationals has been arriving at a French military base in Abidjan from where they are transferred to naval ships or planes. General Henri Poncet is in command of the operation. “I think what the international community is worried about is the country collapsing into an inter-ethnic bloodbath. I hope time will bring reason back to the country,” he said. Supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo have been venting their fury on French citizens, accusing France of supporting the aims of rebels who occupy the north of the country. The situation came to a head after Ivorian warplanes killed 9 French soldiers in an attack which Gbagbo’s government claims was targetting rebels. French forces destroyed all but one of the country’s handfull of military aircraft in retaliation. In what Paris might regard as a worrying development the Gbagbo has replaced his replaced his armed forces chief with a reportedly more hardline commander. West African leaders will discuss the crisis in a meeting in Nigeria today. They fear the whole region could become destablised by events in Ivory Coast.