Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ouattara Forces Attack Gbagbo After Surrender Talks Stall

Forces backing Ivory Coast's internationally-recognized president Wednesday renewed their assault on the country's incumbent president after he refused to admit electoral defeat and surrender.

Forces supporting Alassane Ouattara waited more than one day while French and United Nations officials tried to convince incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo's to give up power.

But Gbagbo refused to acknowledge that he lost November's presidential election.  So pro-Ouattara forces renewed their attack on Gbagbo's residence and the presidential palace in what they say is a final push to end this four-month political crisis over Ivory Coast's presidency.

U.N. and French attack helicopters destroyed heavy weapons at Gbagbo's residence and his main military barracks Monday. Gbagbo allies say those forces were also involved in Wednesday's fighting as part of what they call an assassination attempt against Gbagbo - an allegation the French officials denied.

The U.N. mission in Ivory Coast says it is acting to defend civilians and peacekeepers in line with its Security Council mandate. Ouattara forces say they are under orders to capture Gbagbo alive.

His refusal to accept an offer from the West Africa regional alliance for a safe and dignified exit is the latest and perhaps one of the last acts of defiance from Gbagbo.  The incumbent leader chose instead to remain in an underground bunker, refusing to back down from his claim that he was re-elected when the constitutional council annulled as fraudulent nearly ten percent of all ballots cast in his run-off election with Ouattara.

Ouattara's claim to the presidency is based on electoral commission results certified by the United Nations.

Hundreds of people have died since fighting began in December, including many civilians. The U.N. is investigating reports of mass killings last week in a western province near the Liberian border.
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