Ivory Coast Rebels Now Control Official Capital
Forces opposed to incumbent Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo have seized the country’s official capital, Yamoussoukro, though Gbagbo forces still control the main seat of power in Abidjan.
A spokeswoman for the New Forces rebels, who support Mr. Gbagbo’s presidential rival Alassane Ouattara, told reporters that fighters entered Yamoussoukro Wednesday, after making major advances across Ivory Coast.
Residents say pro-Gbagbo forces have fled and that pro-Ouattara forces are walking and driving through the streets.
Pro-Ouattara forces have seized several other towns in west, central and eastern Ivory Coast since launching an offensive on Monday. Earlier, the New Forces spokeswoman said pro-Ouattara fighters now control almost 75 percent of the country.
A spokesman for Mr. Gbagbo, Don Mello, has called for a cease-fire and the opening of dialogue. But Mr. Ouattara’s government said all “peaceful avenues” for Mr. Gbagbo to admit his election defeat are exhausted.
Mr. Gbagbo refused to relinquish power after Mr. Ouattara was named the winner of last November’s presidential election. The United Nations, African Union, and other international bodies have insisted he must step down.
Late Tuesday, the Gbagbo government called on members of the president’s youth movement to enroll in the army.
The United Nations says at least 472 people have been killed since the political crisis began in early December. It says up to a million people have been displaced, with thousands fleeing west to Liberia or east to Ghana.
The disputed election was meant to reunite Ivory Coast, nearly a decade after a brief civil war left it split into rebel-controlled north and government-controlled south.
Efforts by the African Union to resolve the post-election crisis peacefully have so far failed.
InformAfrica reports – Political News, Ivory Coast.