Côte d’Ivoire: Laurent Gbagbo engaged in a show of force in a war in Abidjan
LEMONDE.FR with AFP, Reuters | 27.03.11 | 8:31 • Updated 27.03.11 | 8:33
A man calling himself Commander Bauer, member of the “commando invisible” in the Abobo district of Abidjan. REUTERS / Luc Gnago
At long last, the situation is about to escape the control of one side or the other, leaving the Ivorian president, Laurent Gbagbo, gathered thousands of his supporters near the presidential palace in Abidjan, Saturday, March 26. Led by Charles Ble Goude, leader of the “patriotic” pro-Gbagbo protesters sang in praise of their leader on the Republic Square, where Mr. Gbagbo had barricaded himself. “Before attacking Laurent Gbagbo you will [have to] kill all this world ” , launched Charles Ble Goude, saying that “there will be no civil war ” in Côte d’Ivoire.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been vilified by the crowd, just like Barack Obama, the UN and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Charles Ble Goude, echoing Laurent Gbagbo, has renewed its call for “dialogue” to “find a solution to the post-election crisis” .
Supporters of Laurent Gbagbo in Abidjan Saturday, March 26. AFP / JEAN-PHILIPPE Ksiazek
While Mr. Gbagbo was engaged in a show of force, Alassane Ouattara, recognized as the legitimate winner of the presidential election by the international community, refused the mediation of former Foreign Minister of Cape Verde José Brito, named by the African Union (AU). José Brito was charged with opening of negotiations between both sides to implement the decisions taken by the AU, including finding an “honorable exit” for Laurent Gbagbo. Mr. Ouattara was immediately challenged Mr. Brito for “his personal and political connections” with the president.
The political and diplomatic deadlock raises fears every day a little more than a civil war in Cote d’Ivoire. The fighting with heavy weapons is already raging in the neighborhood of Abobo, north of Abidjan, between the Defence Forces and Security (FDS) loyal to Gbagbo and a “commando invisible” defending Mr. Ouattara. The Special Envoy of the World , Jean-Philippe Rémy, describes ” a dirty little urban warfare without television pictures , where the wounded are dying for lack of care, or fear of being completed in some hospitals ” . The UN says more than 460 people have been killed since late 2010, and a million people were displaced.
In the north, under control of the camp pro-Ouattara, the population was from Wednesday night without water and electricity, according to residents. The Ivorian Electricity Company (CIE) has blamed on the Gbagbo government, which controls the system since mid-January. With Nigeria, France has submitted to the members of the Security Council a draft UN resolution banning the use of heavy weapons against civilians in Ivory Coast and imposing new sanctions on Gbagbo and his family. The draft resolution should be debated later in the week.