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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid