Monday, April 11, 2011

Ivory Coast News Bulletin: President Laurent Gbagbo Seized by French Military Forces

11 April 2011 Last updated at 10:11 ET

Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo arrested

Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo has been detained, after being snatched from his besieged residence in the country's main city, Abidjan.

News that he was being held was broken by a Gbagbo aide and confirmed by France's ambassador and forces loyal to his rival Alassane Ouattara.

French tanks earlier advanced on the presidential residence in Abidjan.

Mr Gbagbo has been refusing to cede power to Mr Ouattara after losing November's presidential election.

There were conflicting accounts about how Mr Gbagbo had been captured, with France's ambassador saying he had been taken by troops loyal to Mr Ouattara and an aide to Mr Gbagbo saying French special forces had been involved.

A spokesman for Mr Ouattara told Reuters that Mr Gbagbo had been taken to the city's Golf Hotel, where Mr Ouattara has his headquarters.

UN peacekeepers have accused Gbabgo forces of endangering the civilian population, and had asked French troops in Ivory Coast to act against the defiant leader's heavy weapons.

French denial

Forces loyal to Mr Ouattara launched an offensive from their stronghold in the north at the end of March, after months of political deadlock during which Mr Gbagbo refused to recognise his rival's election victory.

As they closed in on Mr Gbagbo's power base in Abidjan, UN and French attack helicopters targeted heavy weapons being used by his forces.

Attempts to negotiate his exit failed, and his forces appeared to be making a comeback by the end of last week, even threatening the hotel used by Mr Ouattara.

On Sunday, UN and French helicopters launched a new wave of air strikes, and on Monday French tanks were seen advancing on the residence.

France's ambassador to Ivory Cost, Jean-Marc Simon, told AFP news agency: "Laurent Gbagbo was arrested by the Republican Forces of Ivory Coast and taken to the Golf Hotel."

AFP added that eyewitnesses had seen pro-Ouattara forces entering the presidential compound while French and UN armoured vehicles stood on a road leading to the complex.

However, an aide to Mr Gbagbo, Toussaint Alain, told Reuters news agency from Paris: "Gbagbo has been arrested by French special forces in his residence and has been handed over to the rebel leaders."

An unnamed French government source denied the report.

"Mr Gbagbo was arrested by Mr Ouattara's troops, that is true, but not by French special forces, who did not go into the enclosure of Mr Gbagbo's residence," the source told AFP.

Apr 11, 2011

Ivory Coast rebel forces take Gbagbo into custody

09:43 AM
By Douglas Stanglin, USA TODAY

Update at 9:57 a.m. ET: The French Embassy in Ivory Coast says Laurent Gbagbo has been captured by forces of democratically elected leader Alassane Ouattara. The move came after an attack by French forces earlier Monday.

An embassy official confirmed the detention by phone to an Associated Press reporter in Paris, speaking on condition of anonymity because of government policy.

Earlier posting: French special forces have detained Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and turned him over him to rebel leaders, a Gbagbo adviser in France says, according to Reuters.

Toussaint Alain tells the news agency that Gbagbo, who has refused to recognize the election of Laurent Ouattara as president, was arrested by French special forces.

Ivory Coast's Gbagbo detained

Mon Apr 11, 2011 1:58PM

Troops loyal to Ivory Coast president-elect Alassane Ouattara have detained incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo in the main city of Abidjan, the French ambassador says.

"Laurent Gbagbo was arrested by the Republican Forces of Ivory Coast, and taken to the Golf Hotel," Jean-Marc Simon was quoted by AFP as saying.

He was referring to the Ouattara's fortified base camp in the city.

A spokesman for Ouattara said Gbagbo, and his wife Simone, were taken to Golf Hotel at around 1:00 p.m. (1300) GMT, shortly after their arrest.

Pro-Ouattara forces had surrounded Gbagbo's residence for several days.

Gbagbo is "alive and well" and will now be put on trial, the country's UN envoy Youssoufou Bamba said.

It comes as French ground troops have entered the center of the city, where UN and French helicopters jointly attacked Gbagbo's residence.

Following those attacks, a spokesman for Gbagbo in Paris, had said he is still alive despite the partial damage to his residence.

The United Nations says the assault was in retaliation for attacks by Gbagbo's forces on UN headquarters and civilians.

Gbagbo's troops have been engaged in fierce battle with forces loyal to Ouattara for control of Abidjan. They attacked a UN building and Ouattara's headquarters on Saturday.

While much of the international community has recognized Ouattara as the winner of the vote, Gbagbo refused to cede power. Tensions further escalated after they both claimed victory and appointed separate cabinets.

Hundreds of people have been killed since the controversial presidential election in November 2010.

Ivory Coast's Abidjan risks health disaster: MSF

Mon Apr 11, 2011 6:21am GMT
By Mark John

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - The battle for Ivory Coast's main city Abidjan is pushing its four million residents ever closer to a health disaster, relief agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) said on Sunday.

Widespread cuts in water supply come as medicines are running out, while violent militias are dissuading many from venturing out into the streets to seek food already retailing at multiples of its peace-time price.

"It is a city of four million, most of whom don't have access to health facilities," MSF Abidjan Field Coordinator Henry Gray told Reuters in a telephone interview from his downtown office, as fire from automatic weapons rang out in the background.

"It is all potentially disastrous for a city of this size," he warned of the outcome of a disputed presidential election that has degenerated into an open conflict, claiming over a thousand lives and uprooted over half a million.

After a rapid advance from their northern strongholds, forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, winner of the November 28 poll according to U.N.-certified results, have faced dogged resistance by a heavily-armed core of troops backing Laurent Gbagbo, who says those results were rigged.

The port city, which is the hub of the world's cocoa market, has descended into anarchy in recent days, with street militias executing residents according to their ethnic or political allegiance and criminal bands going on violent pillaging sprees.


Snipers are taking potshots at those walking in the streets, residents said.

Gray said security had improved from "really bad to just bad" in recent days, allowing the agency more scope for deliveries to local hospitals and other activity.

But full access was impossible because the city's Plateau business and political centre -- once the envy of the region -- has become a battleground.

"Plateau is the real killer for us, we can't get past that," he said, adding that the violence had prevented MSF from getting to one maternity hospital nearby.

Chronic water shortages already contributed to an outbreak of cholera between December and February, and while Gray said there was no evidence so far of a second outbreak, the outlook remained worrying for a city, which had grown accustomed to regular supplies of drinking water.

"There is no secondary coping mechanism -- people don't have wells in their garden ... It (the risk of cholera) is extremely worrying."

The lack of security on the streets has so far prevented an accurate toll of victims from a battle, which began when pro-Ouattara forces launched a major assault on Abidjan last Monday.

Although bodies have been cleared off the streets in some areas, Reuters eyewitnesses have seen many rotting corpses in the streets and the stench is a common complaint among residents.

Gray said the sheer scale of the health impact of the conflict was still largely unknown. "We can't get into the community to do the evaluations," he said. "We really need to get in there to find out what is going on."

1 comment:

Beka Shakur said...

Thanks 4 sharing; shared on Facebook