News / Africa

Gbagbo Army Calls for Reinforcements in Battle for Abidjan

Smoke rises from the city center of Abidjan, April 2, 2011
Smoke rises from the city center of Abidjan, April 2, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
TEXT SIZE - +

Soldiers backing Ivory Coast's incumbent president are calling for reinforcements in their battle against fighters supporting the country's internationally-recognized president.  In the third day of combat for control of the commercial capital, Abidjan, Human Rights Watch is calling on both sides to respect the rights of civilians.

Supporters of incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo used state-run television to call for reinforcements in their battle against forces backing Ivory Coast's internationally-recognized president Alassane Ouattara.

Gbagbo militant Damane Picasse says they are fighting against foreign powers, the United Nations, mercenaries, and the West African regional alliance. He is calling on everyone in the Abidjan neighborhoods of Cocody and Yopougon - men, women, and children - to defend the Gbagbo presidency.

Gbagbo supporters regained control of state-run television after if was briefly forced off the air  and used it to call on all members of the armed forces to join what they say are five units still fighting in Abidjan.

Many of those troops have already defected to Ouattara's side. Gbagbo's army chief of staff took his wife and children to seek refuge in the home of the South African ambassador.

While pro-Ouattara fighters met little resistance in taking the political capital Yamoussoukro and the port of San Pedro, Gbagbo clearly has far-more-determined defenders in Abidjan. As the fight breaks down into neighborhood-by-neighborhood combat, Human Rights Watch is calling on both sides to protect the rights of civilians.

Corinne Dufka heads the Human Rights Watch West Africa office. "The potential for reprisals is quite high, so we are asking that Mr. Ouattara's coalition of forces respect international humanitarian law, ensure that any prisoners that are taken are not summarily executed that they are put in a proper detention facility, and that there are no reprisal killing against civilians who they believe or who did support Laurent Gbagbo," she said.

Dufka says ensuring overall discipline may be complicated by the amalgam of fighters coalescing behind Mr. Ouattara.

"The military forces fighting with Alassane Ouattara are made up of a loose coalition that includes Force Nouvelle rebels who were formerly based in the north," she said. "They include police, gendarmes, and soldiers who have recently defected from Gbagbo's side over to Ouattara's side. And they include as well neighborhood-based civil defense forces which have sprung up over the last couple months. So we are asking that he take proactive measures to ensure that those forces are disciplined, to make sure they have the proper directives to respect international humanitarian law and human rights."

Dufka says pro-Gbagbo forces must also respect those rights. "Yesterday we documented a number of cases in two neighborhoods in which Gbagbo's military were firing out at the civilian population," she said. 'That is in Treichville and near the airport in the Port-Bouet neighborhood."

"In Treichville, that is the base of the Republican Guard, they were firing into the population probably to prevent an advance by Ouattara's forces. The same thing in Port-Bouet. That kind of reckless fire and firing out into the population must be avoided. If there is to be fighting, it needs to be between armed men from one side and armed men from the other side," she added.

The United Nations mission in Ivory Coast says more than 400 people were killed in fighting in western provinces last week, most of them by forces backing Ouattara. The International Committee of the Red Cross says at least 800 people were killed last Tuesday alone.

Watch related slide show

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid