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
TEXT SIZE - +
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

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