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Ousted president Gbagbo calls on loyalists to hold fire

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-05-02

Ivory Coast’s former leader Laurent Gbagbo urged his supporters on Monday to stop fighting and help the country return to normal. Pro-Gbagbo forces have continued to fight after his capture and expulsion from power on 11 April.

REUTERS - Ivory Coast’s deposed former leader Laurent Gbagbo urged supporters on Monday to drop political quarrels for now and help the West African country revive its economy in peace.

Gbagbo was ousted from power on April 11 by forces loyal to his successor Alassane Ouattara, backed by French and U.N. troops deployed to help end a four-month power struggle that killed thousands.

His supporters, some of them armed, have continued to battle government forces in pro-Gbagbo areas of the main city Abidjan.

“I insist that there be an economic and security revival, and after that we can talk about politics,” he told a news conference in a presidential residence in the northern city of Korhogo where he is under house arrest.

The bloody political crisis in the world’s top cocoa grower nation paralyzed the economy and froze exports from late-January, driving cocoa futures prices to record highs. Exporters expect shipments to resume within days.

South Africa’s Archbishop Desmond Tutu, part of a delegation meeting Gbagbo that also included former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former Irish President Mary Robinson, said he was heartened by the comments.

“We are very, very pleased that the former president wants to see his country return to normality,” Tutu said.

Gbagbo, who had refused to quit after a Nov. 28 election, appeared relaxed, wearing a light blue shirt and dark pants. Security around the compound was light, a Reuters witness said.

That contrasted to his dishevelled appearance when forces loyal to Ouattara captured him, his wife Simone and close allies at his Abidjan residence after weeks of fighting that turned the former ‘Paris of West Africa’ into a war zone.

Ouattara has since launched a criminal probe against Gbagbo, Simone and 100 other close associates over alleged human rights abuses, notably the lethal attacks by his security forces on opposition protesters after the election.

Ouattara has promised to set up a truth and reconciliation commission and said he would form a unity government with members of Gbagbo’s party by the end of May, with an aim of restoring full security to the country by June.

Date created : 2011-05-02


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