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Ivorian president names ex-rebel general as army head
by Staff Writers
Abidjan (AFP) July 7, 2011

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara has named General Soumaila Bakayoko, the former rebel military chief, as head of the country's newly integrated army, authorities said Thursday.

A joint statement from the defence and interior ministries said Bakayoko was appointed chief of staff of the Ivory Coast Republican Forces (ICRF).

The ICRF will merge forces loyal to Ouattara and the former Defence and Security Forces which served former president Laurent Gbagbo.

Gbagbo was arrested on April 11 after a 10-day battle for power in Abidjan and a four-month political standoff sparked by his refusal to accept defeat in last November's presidential poll.

Bakayoko replaces General Philippe Mangou, who had occupied the post since 2004 and switched allegiances three times between Gbagbo and Ouattara during the crisis.

A reshuffle of the west African country's top brass was seen as one of the most pressing challenges facing Ouattara in his attempt to stabilise the world's top cocoa producer.

"These appointments come within the framework of the Ouagadougou political accords," the joint statement said.

The 2007 Ouagadougou peace agreement provided for the integration of Bakayoko's New Forces (FN) into the regular armed forces within a month of the new president's swearing-in.

Ouattara took office on May 21.

Appointed as Bakayoko's deputy is Firmin Detoh Letoh, former head of the land forces under Gbagbo who defected to Ouattara's camp in the early stages of the battle for Abidjan.

Ouattara's army reshuffle affects most key jobs, except General Bredou M'Bia who remains police chief.

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Rights group urges release of Guinean ex-military chief
Conakry (AFP) July 7, 2011 - An alliance of human rights groups on Thursday slammed the "illegal arrest and detention" of Colonel Moussa Keita, a former member of the military junta which led Guinea for a year until December 2009.

Nouha Traore, a top official of the Coordination of Organisations Defending Human Rights (CODDH), expressed "deep concern over the illegal arrest and detention" of Keita and demanded his release.

Keita, an ally of the late captain Moussa Dadis Camara's military junta, was picked up "by people in civilian clothes" in Conakry nine days ago, according to a family member.

Traore said Keita was being held "in a secret location and out of reach of his family".

Keita was the permanent secretary of the political wing of a military junta which took power in December 2008 when longtime ruler Lansana Conte died.

In recent weeks Keita has made statements to local media accusing General Sekouba Konate -- head of a transition government put in place after Camara was shot by a close aide - of embezzling $20 million (14 million euros).

Konate is hailed as leading the poor west African nation to its first democratic vote in half a century, in which Alpha Conde was declared president in November 2010.

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