News / Europe

Ivorians in Paris Celebrate Capture of Former Strongman Gbagbo

Soldiers from France's Licorne ("Unicorn") forces prepare for a military operation, in southern Ivory Coast, April 11, 2011.
Soldiers from France's Licorne ("Unicorn") forces prepare for a military operation, in southern Ivory Coast, April 11, 2011.

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Supporters of Ivory Coast's internationally recognized President Alassane Ouattara sang and danced on the streets of the French capital on Monday after learning about the surrender of longtime leader Laurent Gbagbo.

Scenes of joy erupted in the 10th arrondissement of Paris as the large community of Ivorian expatriates living here heard of Gbagbo's capture.

Women and men gathered in small groups dancing and singing "Ado, Ado," in reference to Alassane Ouattara, Ivory Coast's internationally recognized president.

One woman, Sally, said she was sad that the arrest of Gbagbo and his wife, Simone, came after so much bloodshed. But she expressed confidence in Ouattara as the country's new president.

"I do believe he's going to be a good president but he needs, what Ouattara needs, is everyone uniting together," she said. "It's not only one man that's going to bring peace in Ivory Coast -- it's everybody together."

Another Ivorian, Mamadou Kone, was euphoric at the news of Mr. Gbagbo's arrest. He said he was moved and very happy, addking that "today, Ivorians have finished with 11 years of dicatorship under Mr. Gbagbo. Today. they are free."

Many of those dancing on the streets yelled "thank you France," in reference to the French Licorne troops who, along with UN forces, launched airstrikes against Mr. Gbagbo's palace.

France's Interior Minister Claude Gueant said he hoped Ivory Coast, a former French colony, had turned a page on years of bitter conflict. Gueant told French radio he hoped Ivory Coast's legitimate power will be installed and that peace and economic prosperity would return to the country.

Mr. Ouattara's ambassador to the United Nations says Mr. Gbagbo will face justice for the alleged crimes he has committed.

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