United States Suspends Aid To Ivory Coast

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:25 PM EDT

(CNSNews.com) - The State Department on Tuesday suspended all American aid and arms transfers to the Ivory Coast, condemning what a department spokesman called the forceful ouster of an elected government.

Philip Reeker, a State Department spokesman, also urged Ivorian authorities "to ensure the safety of Ivory Coast citizens as well as Americans and other residents. There should be no reprisals against officials of the ousted government," Reeker said.

The aid suspension came hours after Ivory Coast's new military leader, General Robert Guei, told a meeting of foreign ambassadors in Abidjan that he wanted to stop the country from being torn apart by ethnic and regional tensions. He also appealed to the ambassadors not to cut off aid to the Ivory Coast.

Guei condemned what he called the increasingly "xenophobic policies" of the ousted civilian regime that was led by President Henri Konan Bedie. Guei said such policies were not worthy of the Ivory Coast because the country had been built with the help of foreign workers.

Guei also said he couldn't provide a timetable on when he intends to return the country to constitutional rule and free elections, but he assured the foreign ambassadors that these things would happen rapidly.

The overthrow of the civilian government last Friday marked the Ivory Coast's first coup since it achieved independence in 1960.The government overthrow has been condemned by France, the United States and various African countries.