From rebel to gold miner
Issiaka Ouattara is a former rebel leader who is now the deputy commander of the Republican Guard and a man known ubiquitously by his three-syllable nom de guerre: Wattao.
A Reuters reporter witnessed soldiers loyal to Wattao in control of the mine and overseeing the miners. Those soldiers were also present inside the "comptoirs," or offices where the miners sell the gold they find.
One of the soldiers based at the mine told Reuters that he was an ex-rebel who had gone through a donor-backed disarmament program but returned to his old unit.
He said other soldiers in Gamina had done the same or were still waiting to go through the program. He named his two commanders and said those officers answered to Wattao.
A senior army officer familiar with the operation confirmed to Reuters that Wattao controlled local fighters and the mine.
Wattao denies any involvement in the mining operation or the existence of a private force of loyalist fighters. "These are pure lies ... I've never been involved in gold," he told Reuters by telephone in April. "They're looking to find some false problem at all costs in order to put Wattao under sanctions."
Image: Issiaka Wattao, Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces, is seen at the Felix Houphouet Boigny airport for the return of exiled Ivorian officers in Abidjan July 29, 2011.