SomaliPress.com

Fighting in Abidjan Surrounds Home of Incumbent President

Published on Friday 1st April 2011

Forces loyal to internationally-recognized President Alassane Ouattara are surrounding incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo's home in Ivory Coast's commercial capital, Abidjan. Heavy fighting has been reported in Abidjan's Cocody neighborhood around Gbagbo's residence, but it is unclear if he is inside.Pro-Ouattara forces took control of state television late Thursday, its last images showing Gbagbo in the driveway joking around with supporters.Troops previously loyal to Gbagbo surrendered control of Abidjan's airport to United Nations peacekeepers. Gbagbo's army chief of staff took his family to the home of the South African ambassador. Ouattara, who is now calling on all government troops to join him, says all members of the military who are hesitating - whether they be generals, officers, or rank-and-file soldiers - should put themselves at the disposal of the country and return to legality.  Ouatarra says there is still time to join "their brothers-in-arms."The fall of Abidjan follows a lightning offensive by pro-Ouattara troops who apparently met little resistance as they captured territory along the Liberian border, and took control of the political capital, Yamoussoukro.The United Nations says nearly 500 people have been killed since the political crisis began in early December, when Gbagbo refused to accept electoral commission results certified by the United Nations.  U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is urging all parties to avoid harming civilians and is repeating his demand that Gbagbo immediately give up power.

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