Aug. 9 (GIN)- The 51st anniversary of its independence found many Ivorians grieving over a tragic bus accident that killed some 37 passengers two days earlier.
Intended to be the first festive day since a months-long election fight which saw the incumbent president ousted by French troops and a new leader installed, officials instead cancelled most planned events, including a fireworks display in Abidjan, popular parties and the final of the national soccer cup.
A music concert was held in a small square in Abidjan in tribute to the victims of Friday’s bus accident.
The main activity of this year’s celebration is a military parade attended by a unit of Ghana’s navy.
President Alassane Ouattara gave out awards to those who helped remove former President Laurent Gbagbo. Among them were former rebel leader and now Prime Minister Guillaume Soro; the head of the U.N. operation, Choi Young-Jin; the French and United States ambassadors in Abidjan; and the president of the Electoral Commission, Youssouf Bakayoko.
Meanwhile, a senior United Nations official says he will meet with Gbagbo, who has been in detention since his arrest in April. And a pro-Gbagbo activist group has launched a postcard campaign demanding release of the former president, his wife and aides, who remain jailed without charge.