Tension High in Abidjan as Rebels Advance

Published on Thursday 31st March 2011

Tension is rising in Ivory Coast's main city of Abidjan, as forces opposed to incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo move closer to the city.Fighters supporting the country's internationally-recognized president, Alassane Ouattara, have captured around a dozen cities and towns since launching an offensive Monday. On Wednesday, pro-Ouattara forces took control of a key port city, San Pedro and the country's official capital of Yamoussoukro, located about 240 kilometers north of Abidjan.Gbagbo was scheduled to address the nation late Wednesday, but his spokesman appeared instead, saying the president is following events closely and decided to delay his speech.On Wednesday, the United Nations Security Council approved sanctions against Gbagbo, who refused to give up power after Ouattara was named the winner of last November's presidential election. The sanctions include a travel ban and asset freeze on Gbagbo, his wife and three key aides.The resolution urges the nearly 10,000 U.N. peacekeepers in Ivory Coast to use "all necessary means" to protect civilians under "imminent threat of violence," including to prevent the use of heavy weapons against the civilian population.The United Nations says at least 462 people have been killed since the political crisis began in early December. It says up to 1 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 a rebel-controlled north and a government-controlled south. Efforts by the African Union to resolve the post-election crisis peacefully have so far failed.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.



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