Gbagbo allies reached out to Islamists: UN
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) - A new report from United Nations (UN) experts accuses exiled allies of Ivory Coast's former president of trying to recruit Islamist rebels who took control of the northern half of neighboring Mali in a campaign to destabilise the volatile West African region, a UN diplomat and a Western official familiar with the document said on Monday.
The experts also accuse supporters of ex-President Laurent Gbagbo of trying to recruit Mali's military junta, which controls the other half of the country, to the destabilisation campaign - and of trying to seize power from Ivory Coast's current President Alassane Ouattara, the two officials said.
The report by a UN panel of experts, which has been circulated to the UN Security Council, highlights the connection between the recent political upheavals in Ivory Coast and Mali and is likely to intensify international concerns that radical Islamist groups that have links to Al-Qaeda's North Africa branch are attempting to strengthen their presence across Africa.
It documents meetings between Gbagbo allies and the soldiers who seized power in Mali in March and with the radical Islamist group Ansar Dine, which took control of the north in April, the diplomat and Western official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the report has not been made public.