News / Africa

Tension High in Abidjan as Rebels Advance

A pro-Ouattara fighter from a group which calls itself the "invisible commandos" patrols a street in northern Abidjan's Abobo district (Mar 26 2011
A pro-Ouattara fighter from a group which calls itself the "invisible commandos" patrols a street in northern Abidjan's Abobo district (Mar 26 2011
Julia Ritchey

Fighters loyal to Alassane Ouattara took control of the large cocoa-exporting port city of San Pedro early Thursday, less than a day after seizing the administrative capital of Yamoussoukro.

Mr. Ouattara's forces appear to be consolidating their gains as they move toward the commercial capital Abidjan, the last stronghold of incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo.

Meanwhile, South Africa's foreign ministry reported Thursday that Mr. Gbagbo's army chief is seeking refuge at the Abidjan home of the South African ambassador.

The latest developments could mark the beginning of the end for strongman Laurent Gbagbo, who first rose to power a decade ago.  Ivory Coast has teetered on the brink of civil war since its November presidential elections, when Mr. Gbagbo refused to concede to his challenger and the United Nations-certified winner, Alassane Ouattara.

International Crisis Group West Africa analyst Rinaldo Depagne says Mr. Gbagbo appears to be on his last legs.

Laurent Gbagbo (File)
Laurent Gbagbo (File)

“Gbagbo is absolutely, military speaking, overwhelmed. His army is out of the game," said Depagne. "Perhaps he has a few soldiers remaining defending the presidency, but, well, he's militarily speaking, he's naked.”

Depagne thinks the battle for Abidjan is imminent.

“They are currently 100 kilometers northeast from Abidjan, and if Mr. Gbagbo doesn't step down in the coming days or even hours, Abidjan may be under attack tomorrow morning or afternoon,”Depagne said.

Sporadic fighting was reported around Abidjan Thursday afternoon, and many extra checkpoints were set up in anticipation of the coming assault.

The United Nations Security Council on Wednesday slapped additional sanctions against Gbagbo and his inner circle in its latest bid to get him to step down. Co-sponsor of the resolution and Nigerian Ambassador Joy Ogwu said the sanctions were necessary due to increasing attacks on civilians.

“Not only are civilians suffering from indiscriminate attacks, but there is mounting evidence that they're also being specifically targeted," Ogwu said. "The fact that the violence is beginning to take on ethnic and sectarian overtones is an indication of the risk of a relapse to a recent state of civil war in Cote d'Ivoire.”

Senior researcher for Human Rights Watch in West Africa, Corinne Dufka, says her group is concerned about the potential for mass atrocities.

“It's a very, very, vulnerable situation right now with the Ouattara forces pressing in on the capital, and with the recent recruitment of many, many militiamen who have proven themselves to be undisciplined and very readily target civilians,” said Dufka.

Dufka called on the U.N. and French peacekeepers to do all they can to protect vulnerable civilians in Abidjan over the next few days.

The U.N. says up to one million people have already fled the fighting in Abidjan, and food is becoming scarce as civilians stock up on provisions.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid