INTRODUCTION: The United Nations' Security Council has been meeting to discuss the findings of a three-man inquiry group investigating January's attempted coup in the Benin Republic, apparently led by 'foreign mercenaries'.
GV PAN ACROSS: Security Council delegates seated, United Nations Headquarters. (MUTE)
SV: Panamaian delegate Jorge Illueca addressing Council (in Spanish).
SV: Benin delegate Thomas Boya addressing Council (in French).
SV: Gabonese delegates Leon N'Dong addressing Council (in French).
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Background: INTRODUCTION: The United Nations' Security Council has been meeting to discuss the findings of a three-man inquiry group investigating January's attempted coup in the Benin Republic, apparently led by 'foreign mercenaries'. Panamanian Ambassador Jorge Illueca, said the evidence supports Benin's charges that outside forces were involved in the invasion.
SYNOPSIS: The attack, which happened on January the sixteenth, involved some one hundred mercenaries, according to the Benin government. The attackers flew in to Cotonou, the country's main city,in an unmarked four-engine aircraft. They left on the same plane after a three-hour gun-fight during which six Benin citizens and two raiders were killed.
The U.N. inquiry group had based its findings on documents found after the attack, and on the testimony of a single black mercenary prisoner. The Panamanian Ambassador said after examining the report on the finding and the testimony given by the prisoner that both accounts tallied. He told the Security Council that "the prisoner acted in accordance with his freedom of thought, described in detail his recruitment and training in the attacking forces, as well as his own participation in the operation on January 16th. After an exhaustive question," he continued, "we found no faults, contradictions or apparent gaps in his testimony - and his report coincided with other testimonies, especially with documents captured by the Benin Government."
The Benin ambassador, Mr Thomas Boya,said "reactionary and neo-colcailist" circles in France were responsible for the attack. M. Boya said the raid was a "diabolic imperialist plan for the colonial reconquest of Africa". He said it was obvious that the vast sums needed to finance the operation,including more than one million dollars for pay alone according to the U.N. report, must have been provided by powerful financial sources. The report identified the leader of the mercenaries as a French colonel, said M. Boya, and the point of arrival and departure of all the white mercenaries as Paris. M. Boya demanded the colonel and his accomplices be brought to justice. "International imperialist cannot carry out its dirty work without the aid of lackies, or stooges, or local agents which it keeps on the African continent with varying degrees of responsibility and under different covers," he said.
The inquiry mission reported that the soldiers involved in the attack were recruited in Europe and Africa, trained in Morocco, and launched from Gabon. But the U.N. group did not name any government implicated in the Cotonou attack. Gabon and Morocco have denied any involvement. Mr. Leon N'Dong, the Gabonese ambassador, told the Security Council that Gabon's Head of State, President Omar Bongo, has denied the allegations. The Gabonese ambassador then went onto reaffirm the country's basic principles of "peaceful coexistence and non-interference in the internal affairs of other countries".