Ivory Coast: Dozens die as Laurent Gbagbo‘s militia fight on
The stubborn resistance in Abidjan is said to come from mainly Liberian mercenaries hired by Gbagbo as a last throw of the dice after he suffered election defeat and his army crumbled.
Persistent clashes underline the fragility of post-war security after the power struggle between Gbagbo and his rival Alassane Ouattara, who succeeded him as president.
Franck Kodjo, a Red Cross official, told Reuters: “We have seen many dead. We recovered 40 bodies over two hours, but we were forced to stop because we had no room left in our van.”
Gbagbo’s refusal to cede power to the democratically-elected Ouattara triggered a renewed civil war which is believed to have killed more than 3,000 people and displaced more than a million. Gbagbo was arrested on 11 April by forces loyal to Ouattara, with assistance from the French military.
A commander for the Ivorian army, the FRCI, said the remaining pro-Gbagbo fighters in the Abidjan neighbourhood of Yopougon were mostly Liberians who had crossed the border as guns for hire in the aftermath of the election dispute. Efforts to disarm them have so far failed.
“We are in the process of securing the town but there are heavy weapons,” the commander told Reuters. “We’re not the ones firing them, it is those we oppose, the Liberians.”
Other parts of Ivory Coast’s main city are reviving after the conflict, with banks reopening and traffic slowly returning to normal. Ivory Coast’s main industry, the cocoa sector, is poised to resume exports of nearly half a million tonnes of beans, exporters said.
Ouattara’s government is investigating Gbagbo and his inner circle for alleged human rights abuses during the conflict. He has pledged to set up a South African-style truth and reconciliation commission and has already filled the key post of chairman.
Gbagbo is under house arrest in a presidential villa in the northern town of Korhogo, guarded by UN peacekeepers and former rebel forces who supported Ouattara.
The former president called for his supporters to allow the country to restart its economy in peace. Gbagbo met a team of mediators including former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and South African archbishop Desmond Tutu.
After the meeting, Tutu said: “We were very thrilled that the former president looked forward to the country returning to normalcy.
“This is what we are urging all parties – that the country should become the country it was – peaceful, with security for everyone.”
Annan said he encouraged Gbagbo to address the Ivorian people “sooner rather than later” to call for reconciliation. Gbagbo had not given any sign that he disputed Ouattara’s presidency, he added.
- Gbagbo’s militia fight on in Abidjan (guardian.co.uk)
- Fighting erupts in Ivory Coast over last pocket of resistance (cnn.com)
- Elders group: Ivory Coast strongman accepts defeat (ctv.ca)
- Ivory Coast forces fight pockets of resistance (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Elders group: Ivory Coast strongman accepts defeat (foxnews.com)
- Ivory Coast forces fight pockets of resistance (foxnews.com)
- Elders group: Ivory Coast strongman accepts defeat (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Arrested Gbagbo ‘in good health’ (bbc.co.uk)
- Ivory Coast forces attack renegade positions (ctv.ca)
- Prosecutor to move ahead on Ivory Coast probe (seattletimes.nwsource.com)