A plot to overthrow the government of the Ivory Coast by ex-military officers loyal to the former president has been foiled, Ivorian authorities said.
The alleged coup attempt comes just over a year after President Alassane Ouattara took office last April, following a military operation with the help of the U.N. and French special forces to forcibly remove former President Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to concede victory to Ouattara in the country's December 2010 elections.
Gbagbo is currently awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, charged with war crimes that resulted in 3,000 deaths during the turbulent four-month period in which he refused to relinquish power.
The Ivory Coast has been politically destabilized by a series of coup attempts and rigged elections, following the death of the country's first president, Felix Houphouet-Boigny, in 1993.
Gbagbo came to power in a strikingly similar situation to his own ouster, in November 2000, after forcibly removing President Robert Guei, who had been installed following a 1999 coup d'état.
Guei held elections in October 2000 after barring all major opposition candidates from participating, including Ouattara, though Gbagbo was able to participate. Gbagbo won, but Guei refused to concede, until he was forced out the following month.
The Ivory Coast was further destabilized by a five-year civil war beginning in 2002, during Gbagbo's administration, that left the country divided. Demands for open elections were repeatedly pushed back by Gbagbo, preventing attempts to reunify the country, which was only recently achieved with Ouattara's rise to power.
Nevertheless, U.N. peacekeepers have maintained a presence in the Ivory Coast since 2004. Last week, seven of them were killed in an attack attributed to Liberian mercenaries working for Gbagbo loyalists.
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