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DATE=12/28/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=IVORY COAST (L) NUMBER=2-257567 BYLINE=SCOTT BOBB DATELINE=ABIDJAN CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Ivory Coast's new ruler, Robert Guei, has met with foreign diplomats in an effort to build support in the face of widespread foreign criticism of the coup that brought him to power last week and ended nearly four decades of civilian rule. V-O-A Correspondent Scott Bobb reports from Abidjan that General Guei also plans to hold meetings with provincial leaders and senior administration officials, as life begins to return to normal in the West African nation. TEXT: The new Ivorian leader Tuesday sought to reassure foreign governments, telling their ambassadors that his government will respect human rights and will restore democratic civilian rule as soon as possible. /// GUEI ACT IN FRENCH, FADE UNDER /// General Guei said he has told civilian politicians to present their candidates for ministerial posts within 48 hours, so that he may quickly form a broad based government. And he asked for their help in rehabilitating the country. General Guei told the political parties Monday to present candidates who will work for the country after years of mismanagement. He pledged the military will return to the barracks, although he did not give a date. /// GUEI ACT IN FRENCH, FADE UNDER /// General Guei said when the military is assured the government is in order and the politicians - in his words - can dance without slipping, then he said the military will withdraw after organizing free and fair elections. The Ivorian leader's meetings come amid widespread criticism of the coup. Nigeria and South Africa have been particularly critical, while multilateral financial institutions have threatened to suspend financial aid. General Guei said the coup was necessary because dialogue and negotiations had failed. Military officers staged the coup last Friday following a mutiny by non-commissioned soldiers over unpaid salaries and poor living conditions. The coup also occurred amid widespread dissatisfaction with the government of deposed president Henri Konan Bedie. Many Ivorians blame the Bedie government for falling living standards, and accuse it of seeking to stay in power by rigging elections due next year. No casualties were reported, but many shops and businesses were looted during the unrest, and the government ground to a halt. The violence died down after General Guei ordered looters be shot on sight and imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew. The curfew has since been lifted, and life is returning to normal. Government offices have reopened, although the ministers have all been fired. Streets around the radio and television stations, which were targeted during the coup, remain closed and heavily guarded. But the airport has resumed operations and most banks and stores have reopened for business. (SIGNED) NEB/SB/GE/JP 28-Dec-1999 12:12 PM EDT (28-Dec-1999 1712 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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