Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

AFRICA NEWS

Rwandan singer amongst terror plot suspects

Read more

DEBATE

What's Putin's Plan? Kiev Accuses Russia of Terrorism

Read more

FOCUS

Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: Online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

ENCORE!

Art, sex, money, memory and manga

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Spat over Iran's UN ambassador hampers thawing relations with US

Read more

FOCUS

China trade deal: Is Taiwan's identity under threat?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Call it a caretaker government'

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles

Read more

  • Frantic search for South Korea ferry passengers continues

    Read more

  • Kiev powerless as pro-Russia activists seize armoured vehicles

    Read more

  • Algeria heads to the polls: ‘this election has nothing to do with us’

    Read more

  • Scandal-hit French doctor Jacques Servier dies

    Read more

  • N. Korea not amused by London hair salon's Kim Jong-un ad

    Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • Real Madrid beat old foes Barcelona to lift Copa del Rey

    Read more

  • Belgian head of wildlife reserve shot in eastern Congo

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    Read more

  • More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in northeast Nigeria

    Read more

  • New York police disband unit targeting Muslims

    Read more

  • 'Miracle girl' healthy after seven-organ transplant in Paris

    Read more

  • Paris police memo calling for Roma eviction ‘rectified’

    Read more

  • Burgundy digs into France's bureaucratic 'mille-feuille'

    Read more

  • French court drops ‘hate speech’ case against Bob Dylan

    Read more

  • Algeria rights crackdown slammed ahead of election

    Read more

  • Iraq closes notorious Abu Ghraib jail over security fears

    Read more

  • In ‘Tom at the Farm’, Xavier Dolan blends Hitchcock and homoeroticism

    Read more

Africa

Army chief seeks refuge as noose tightens around Gbagbo

©

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2011-04-01

Ivory Coast's army chief, an ally of strongman Laurent Gbagbo, has sought refuge at the home of the South African ambassador as troops loyal to the country’s internationally backed president, Alassane Ouattara, besieged the main city of Abidjan.

In a dramatic turn of events Thursday, forces loyal to Ivory Coast’s internationally recognised president Alassane Ouattara closed in on the main Ivorian city of Abidjan as the country’s army chief of staff, a key ally of Ivorian strongman Laurent Gbagbo, sought asylum at the South African mission in Abidjan.

Ouattara: "They [forces loyal to Ouattara] are at the gates of Abidjan"

Rebels fighting to install Ouattara as president have been making rapid advances in the past few days from their bases in northern Ivory Coast. On Wednesday, the capital of Yamoussoukro fell unopposed to rebel forces. The port of San Pedro, a key site in this cocoa-exporting nation, fell shortly thereafter.

The West African nation of Ivory Coast has been gripped by a political crisis for the past four months after Ouattara was internationally recognised as the winner of the November 2010 presidential elections. Longtime Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo has however failed to concede defeat, leading to a deadly showdown between the two sides that has killed more than 460 people and seen nearly a million people fleeing their homes.

In recent days, the military and diplomatic noose has been tightening around Gbagbo. The latest blow to the Ivorian strongman came when the country’s chief of army staff Gen. Phillippe Mangou, a well-known Gbagbo loyalist, sought refuge at the South African ambassador’s residence in Abidjan.

In an interview with FRANCE 24, South African Foreign Ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela said Gen. Mangou - along with his wife and five children - had sought refuge at the ambassador’s residence Wednesday night.

“We accommodated him and his family on humanitarian grounds,” said Monyela in a phone interview with FRANCE 24 from the South African capital of Pretoria. “He’s still there and currently he is consulting with international bodies including the regional grouping ECOWAS, the African Union and the United Nations on the way forward.”

Ouattara issues call to Gbagbo forces

Shortly after the South African foreign ministry confirmed reports of Mangou’s presence at the ambassadorial residence, Ouattara issued a call to other Gbagbo loyalist fighters to switch sides to prevent further bloodshed in the politically unstable West African nation.

“I call on you to serve your country,” said Ouattara in a statement broadcast on his private television station. “It is time to join your brothers in the Republican Forces."

Ouattara maintained that troops fighting to install him as president were “at the gates” of Abidjan, the economic heart of the country.

Pro-Gbagbo youths have deserted roadblocks
The Ivorian commercial capital was eerily calm Thursday, said FRANCE 24’s Bernard Mark reporting from Abidjan. “Every single store is closed, there isn’t a car on the road…even the roadblocks that we’ve seen over the last few weeks that were set up mostly by pro-Gbagbo youths have been abandoned.”

Abidjan is widely believed to be the site of a likely last stance by Gbagbo’s forces, which would probably centre around the presidential palace in the heart of the city.

As rumours of the Ivorian strongman’s whereabouts circulated across the city, state-controlled RTI TV said Gbagbo was “safe and sound in his home” in Cocody, an up

scale neighbourhood of Abidjan.

But the northern outskirts of the city were coming under attack Thursday, said Mark.

Rebel forces were moving south from the capital of Yamoussoukro toward Abidjan, taking villages along the way, including Gbagbo’s home village of Mama, said the Associated Press, quoting an aide to Ouattara.
Reporting from Abidjan, FRANCE 24’s Mark said the district of Yopougon, a Gbagbo stronghold, was coming under heavy attack by rebels loyal to Ouattara, according to witnesses.

“The fighters attacking Yopougon are pro-Ouattara forces who started the day in Abidjan. They’re going to be joined, according to their leaders, by the main force coming south from Yamoussoukro,” said Mark. “The question now is, will Abidjan fall as quickly as other cities have done, with virtually no resistance.”
 

 

 

Date created : 2011-03-31

  • IVORY COAST

    Ouattara forces take over strategic cocoa port

    Read more

  • IVORY COAST

    Ouattara loyalists seize capital of Ivory Coast

    Read more

  • IVORY COAST

    UN Security Council imposes sanctions on Gbagbo

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)