Ivorian militia chief declares loyalty to Ouattara
By Ange Aboa ABIDJAN (Reuters) - The head of a powerful militia that fought against Laurent Gbagbo in Ivory Coast on Tuesday pledged allegiance to President Alassane Ouattara and dismissed reports that his men had fallen out with other fighters.
Ibrahim Coulibaly, head of the "Invisible Commandos" who harassed Gbagbo forces in Abidjan for weeks, said pro-Gbagbo forces must be included in the country's new army to avoid future bloodshed.
Ouattara won a November election which previous president Gbagbo refused to cede, leading to a four-month power struggle that ended last week when pro-Ouattara forces captured Gbagbo.
Gbagbo's arrest has raised hopes for peace in the leading cocoa grower.
But the weeks of heavy fighting have left groups of armed men scattered across the country.
"The Invisible Commandos are at the service of the republic, its people and its head of state," Coulibaly, known as "IB," told reporters in his first press conference since his men started attacking Gbagbo's forces in Abidjan in January.
Coulibaly dismissed reports of disputes with other militias, saying that his 5,000 fighters were working alongside pro-Ouattara forces. "Anything else is a lie," he added.
Coulibaly's attacks in the north of the commercial capital appeared to open the way for Ouattara's supporters to sweep south and enter the city.
Their advance initially stalled amid fierce resistance from Gbagbo's elite forces and reports of rows between Coulibaly and Guillaume Soro, the former rebel leader who is Ouattara's prime minister. Continued...