Ivory Coast leaders head for collision
IVORY COAST: The two leaders battling for power in Ivory Coast were
on a collision course Tuesday after troops loyal to Laurent Gbagbo
deployed around his enemy Alassane Outtara’s headquarters.
Outtara’s supporters were undaunted, and vowed to take control of
government headquarters in Abidjan and to hold a cabinet meeting there
by Friday, and EU ministers agreed measures against Gbagbo and his
The isolated but defiant incumbent had deployed troops and gendarmes
on access routes to Ouattara’s United Nations-protected waterfront base,
in the Hotel Golf on the shores of Abidjan’s lagoon.
Gbagbo and Ouattara both declared themselves president in the wake of
last month’s disputed election. Ouattara has been recognised by the
international community, but Ivorian army chiefs continue to back
Gbagbo. Pro-Gbagbo security forces blocked roads to the hotel from
around midday until nightfall, then fell back into more discreet
positions to monitor the situation, while allowing traffic to pass,
witnesses and soldiers said.
Former rebel fighters from the New Forces (FN) armed with assault
rifles and rocket-propelled grenades had earlier taken up defensive
positions around the waterfront Hotel Golf, alongside armed UN
The loyalist forces were equipped with trucks mounted with
machine-guns and had rocket-launchers of their own, but there was no
sign they were preparing to launch an assault and the situation was calm
A 10:00 pm to 5:00 am curfew remained in place on Monday, state
television said, and was prolonged from Tuesday for at least another
week while being reduced in duration to the hours between midnight (2400
GMT) and 5:00 am.
Ouattara’s prime minister, former rebel leader Guillaume Soro,
announced a plan to take control of state television headquarters by
Thursday and the prime minister’s offices in time for a cabinet meeting
It was not immediately clear whether he was prepared to use force to
push this plan through if Gbagbo resists.
In New York UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters: “The mission
reports that the situation at the Gulf Hotel remains tense. “Armed
elements from both camps were observed reinforcing positions and the
mission continues to provide security around the hotel.
“The mission is under orders to protect Mr Ouattara’s administration
and that is in accordance with the mandate that the mission has.” The
65-year-old Gbagbo occupies the presidential palace and his ministers
appear to exercise control over their departments, while Ouattara is
trying to control the levers of state from his heavily defended golf
Gbagbo has appointed his own ministers and insists he is the
constitutional president, despite the UN Security Council calling on him
to step down.
The November 28 presidential run-off election was supposed to mark a
turning point in Ivory Coast’s decade-long crisis and restore
constitutional rule to a country divided into rival northern and
southern armed camps.
Abidjan, Tuesday, AFP