News / Africa

Ivory Coast Braces for Violent Showdown

Soldiers loyal to Laurent Gbagbo patrol a street in the central Plateau neighborhood of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, April 2, 2011
Soldiers loyal to Laurent Gbagbo patrol a street in the central Plateau neighborhood of Abidjan, Ivory Coast, April 2, 2011
Julia Ritchey

Tensions in Ivory Coast's commercial capital remain high as forces loyal to the country's internationally-recognized president lay the groundwork for a final push to unseat incumbent Laurent Gbagbo.

The prime minister of internationally-recognized president Alassane Ouattara says rebel troops are gathering on the outskirts of Abidjan in preparation for a final assault. Guillaume Soro says clashes in the city have caused panic among troops loyal to Laurent Gbagbo.

Adding to the tension are reports that Gbagbo's army chief, Philippe Mangou, has rejoined the military after seeking refuge with his family in the South African embassy last week.

With talk of a final push circulating for days, Eurasia Group Africa analyst Anne Fruhauf says it remains unclear how imminent an assault actually is.

“There are certain disagreements, I understand, within the rebel camp about how to proceed. And then some of the problems are also that there's increasingly civilians in the street. They're strategically being put in front of places like the presidential residence and I think the palace now, so that it makes it very difficult for the rebels to launch a final assault on critical targets like that,” Fruhauf said.

J. Peter Pham of the Ansari Africa Center agrees, adding that any assault will likely be violent.

“I think there are those who would like an assault on the city. There are others who I think are thinking more toward the future, which if they assault the city, it's going to make it that much more difficult to govern it if they succeed,” Pham said.

With the lack of reliable information coming from Abidjan, Fruhauf says it is difficult to assess what impact, if any, the return of Gbagbo's army chief will have.

“I think the most important point about his departure is that symbolically, politically, it's clearly very important. He would've been a very big win for the Ouattara camp in the current climate. The population is very confused about who's actually in control now. So right now the more signals either side can send is very strategic right now,” Fruhauf said.

Both analysts agree that Ouattara is being very careful on how to proceed. Gbagbo has refused to step down since he lost the country's presidential elections last November.

France, which took control of Abidjan's airport Sunday, says it is sending in another 150 troops to help protect civilians and evacuate foreign nationals as the situation escalates.

Abidjan has remained paralyzed for almost five days now, with food running low and water shut off in several parts of the city.  Residents have barricaded themselves inside homes and offices to avoid the sporadic gunfire between rival factions around the city.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs