Friday, April 1, 2011

Fierce fighting for power in Abiyn

Alassane Ouattara supporters and members of Laurent Gbagbo Young Patriots have staged fierce fighting today that have spread throughout Abidjan, while the fence is close around the outgoing president of the Ivory Coast. The fiercest clashes have been reported around the state television station, which cut its signal after loyalist to President-elect Ouattara, took control overnight.

Gbagbo's forces said this morning they have recovered the TV channel this morning and are still fighting. Near the residence and office of Gbagbo have also been the scene of heavy gunfire, and two major military bases in this city, the most important economic enclave in the country. Abidjan has become a war zone since the forces of Ouattara, recognized as the winner of the elections by the international community entered yesterday and surrounded the presidential palace to oust Gbagbo from power permanently.

The outgoing president, who refuses to acknowledge his defeat and hand over power, is "missing", according to France. Analysts quoted by the EFE news agency Gbagbo were located at the headquarters of Agban, the country's biggest strength and focus of Republican Forces of Côte d'Ivoire (Frei), which previously had two senior officers stationed near the outgoing president.

However, this afternoon, the Gbagbo government spokesman, Ahoua Don Mello, he told AFP he is in residence with his family. France and the United Nations has reiterated its calls for Gbagbo to leave power in the hands of Ouattara, who was recognized as the winner of elections last November and put an end to violence.

Images broadcast on television have shown the consequences of a night of rioting and looting in the Ivorian economic capital. The violence has claimed two foreign victims: a Swedish woman of 30 years working for the UN mission in the country (UNOCI) and French teacher, found shot dead in his hotel room in the country's official capital , Yamoussoukro.

Both have died in "stray bullets", according to authorities. Some 500 foreign residents (mainly French and Lebanese) have taken refuge in a French military base. Several final assault of smoke came out this morning in the district of Cocody. Were the result of the intense fighting that took place in the last hours in the exclusive area of Abidjan, where Gbagbo's residence and several diplomatic buildings (although the city gave the political capital Yamoussoukro in 1983, continues to account for the majority Embassies).

"This looks like the final assault," said a neighbor told Agence France Presse. "We have seen through the window many combatants," added another. Last night, Ouattara decreed the closure of the land, air and maritime country, and a curfew in Abidjan. This afternoon has ordered the opening of airspace, but remains closed sea and land boundaries.

The ban on going outside-in force until Sunday between nine pm and six o'clock local-Gbagbo's set up now, so this is a significant gesture in the struggle for power. Same time, UN blue helmets peacefully took control of the International Airport Felix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan and both France and UNOCI troops keep patrolling the streets of the city.

A French Army unit, the former colonial power maintains a peacekeeping mission known as Unicorn has a thousand soldiers, had to intervene in the district of Deux Plateaux to save several compatriots attacked by supporters of Gbagbo. The French Defense Ministry has said this morning that about 500 foreign residents (150 of whom are French nationals) have taken refuge in the last hours in its military base in Port-Bouet.

The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has convened this afternoon a Cabinet crisis on Ivory Coast. The fighting in what is the most populous city erupted after the ultimatum expired Wednesday Ouattara Gbagbo, so that he and his followers surrender. Also after a rapid advance of the forces of President-elect from the north, his fief, to the south Atlantic coast.

Without much resistance, the military loyal to President-elect has been made in the last two days with the capital, Yamoussoukro (center of the country) and San Pedro, the main port (essential for trade in cacao, from which Costa Ivory is the major producer in the world and whose price has fallen by 21% in the last three weeks).

Only then subtracted them Abidjan, where the president is entrenched. "Ivory Coast is one and indivisible. Gbagbo have a few hours to go. If not, there will be a march on Abidjan and will be harder for him," said Prime Minister of the Government of Ouattara, Guillaume Soro, in the channel France 24.

In the same chain, a representative of Amnesty International has warned of the risk of clashes between civilians on both sides spread across the country. Faithful to the outgoing president are, however, fewer and fewer. At least among the security forces. "The police and gendarmes left to President Gbagbo," he said yesterday at France Info radio the head of the UN mission in the country.

A Gbagbo and his supporters only "special forces" added the diplomat. It is estimated that with the change of position, some 50,000 men left to join the staff of Gbagbo, which holds some special forces and Republican Guard. Nor will they support and the Chief of Staff of the Ivorian army, Philippe Mangou, who was known early this morning that he had abandoned his loyalty to outgoing President and has taken refuge since Wednesday in the South African ambassador's official residence in Abidjan .

Dies a UN employee intensification of conflict has also been noted by several international organizations. One of the victims of the escalating violence of the last hours has been a Swedish woman who died last night by a bullet shot. The Swedish Foreign Ministry has stated that the woman, aged 30, was employed by UNOCI and the bullet that killed her was "probably a stray bullet." A source at the United Nations mission, which has already issued a statement of condolence, he told that he was on the balcony of a friend's house when he received the shot.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, has reported through a spokesman that both sides are committing serious human rights violations. Specifically, says Ouattara soldiers have been abducted and abused civilians during their advance towards the south, while the soldiers loyal to Gbagbo have killed innocent civilians.

In both cases, the suspicion was enough that the rival supporters were attacked. For its part, the Security Council yesterday adopted by the UN in New York (early this morning in Spain) a resolution that includes new sanctions against Gbagbo. The 15 members of the highest international body unanimously adopted resolution 1975 proposal by France and Nigeria, which toughens penalties against the outgoing president and his circle of close associates, while asking you to surrender the power.

The resolution gives "full support" to UNOCI to use "all necessary measures" to "protect the civilian population." Gbagbo, his wife Simone, and other partners will see their foreign assets frozen, in addition to that imposed a restriction on all foreign travel "for inciting hatred and violence."

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