Côte d’Ivoire: Latest reports and first-hand accounts

Dominic Browne with a round-up of the latest news and first-hand accounts from the conflict in Côte d'Ivoire.

UN peacekeepers have surrounded Laurent Gbagbo’s “last defenders” as fighting appears to be entering its final phase in Côte d’Ivoire’s main city Abidjan today, BBC News 24 has reported. Last night saw French troops launch a dramatic and successful rescue of the Japanese ambassador from his residence in the city.

-The ambassador’s residence had been stormed by forces loyal to former president Laurent Gbagbo who is holed up in the city’s presidential compound nearby. French military video footage of the rescue operation can be viewed here.

The forces of Mr Gbagbo, who has refused to stand down as president despite being beaten in an election last November, continue to battle the forces of the internationally recognised president Alassane Ouattara. However Ouattara’s supporters are apparently closing in now on victory, having besieged Gbagbo’s residence.

Gbagbo gave an interview to French radio on Tuesday, where he stated that he still considered himself the rightful winner of the election’s in November and would not negotiate. However he did say:

“I’m not a kamikaze. I love life. My voice is not the voice of a martyr. I do not seek death. To die is not my goal here.”

Audio from the interview can be accessed here as can a link to various “Downfall”-esque spoofs.

On the same day however, Reuters reported that a UN internal document said that Gbagbo had asked to surrender to UN troops and asked for protection.

The BBC have reported the French defence minister as saying Gbagbo has fewer than 1,000 troops left. BBC News 24 have also reported that the French foreign minister said that his departure is “inevitable” but that he couldn’t say when it would happen. So the endgame is still unclear and may have a massive impact on the future of this divided nation.

A moving account of life in Abidjan over these recent troubled times, by the novelist Fatou Keita, can be found here.

The Guardian have an excellent live blog on events in Côte d’Ivoire here, providing the latest updates on events. Including news that Action Against Hunger have echoed Save the Children’s warning of a possible cholera epidemic in the country.

They have also reported that despite winning the recognition of the UN and being a former IMF economist Mr Ouattara has failed to win the support of Glenn Beck and Jean-Marie Le Pen (French language link). Why? Because he is a Muslim apparently. Still, with enemies like these…

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.