Ivory Coast's Gbagbo may be considering surrender
Overnight attacks by the UN and France on the residence of renegade president Gbagbo have empowered the forces of elected President Ouattara and reportedly brought Gbago to the brink of surrendering.
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The Ivory Coast leader who has refused to leave office after losing the November presidential election is reportedly negotiating his surrender today. United Nations and French forces attacked the residence of the renegade President Laurent Gbagbo Monday night in a bid to help hand power over to the internationally recognized winner of the election, opposition leader and International Monetary Fund economist Alassane Ouattara.
Ali Coulibaly, Mr. Ouattara’s ambassador to France (Ivory Coast's former colonial power) told radio station France Info that the surrender was near, according to the Associated Press. "I'm not trying to be demagogical or to add to the disinformation, but according to the information that I have, he's negotiating his surrender because he has realized the end is near. The game is up," Mr. Coulibaly said.
On Tuesday morning, Ouattara's forces were preparing for a final offensive on Abidjan, which they reached last week after sweeping up control of nearly the entire country. Their rapid advance was preceded by several months of political tension and brief spates of violence in Abidjan between Mr. Gbagbo's government troops and Ouattara's supporters. The UN and French intervention allowed Ouattara's forces to finally reach the center of the city and Gbagbo's residence.
The UN and France said the use of force was justified because it prevented further civilian deaths, which number at least 800, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, BBC reported. The AP adds that most of those killed have been supporters of Ouattara, and that up to a million people have fled. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the UN attacks were not a declaration of war on Gbagbo, although the UN is one of a couple international bodies that have recognized Ouattara as the rightful winner of the presidential election.
A spokesman for the UN mission in Ivory Coast, Hamadoun Toure, said in an e-mail, "We launched an operation to neutralize heavy weapons that Gbagbo's special forces have been using against the civilian population for the last three months. We destroyed them in four locations,” according to the Guardian. The assault on the Akouedo military camp that hosts three battalions of the Ivory Coast army was recorded and posted online (video).