News / Africa

    UN: Ivory Coast Crisis Not Over Yet

    Local residents react to news of the capture of Laurent Gbagbo in the Youpougon neighborhood of Abidjan, Apr 11 2011
    Local residents react to news of the capture of Laurent Gbagbo in the Youpougon neighborhood of Abidjan, Apr 11 2011

    U.N. peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy told reporters the main task now is to restore law and order in Abidjan and the rest of the country and begin the reconciliation process.  He said there is also a huge humanitarian crisis to contend with.

    Speaking about the operation to capture Mr. Gbagbo, he credited the Forces Republican of President-elect Alassane Ouattara with Mr. Gbagbo’s arrest.

    "Mr. Gbagbo surrendered to President Ouattara’s forces. It was the forces of President Ouattara who came inside the residence - not UNOCI at all, and not [the French] Licorne [force]. It was President Ouattara's forces who entered the residence and Mr. Gbagbo surrendered to them," said Le Roy. "We, again, targeted the heavy weapons, but it was the forces of Mr. Ouattara who entered the residenc."

    On Sunday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon instructed the U.N. force, known as UNOCI, backed by French troops, to undertake a military operation to prevent the use of heavy weapons against civilians in Abidjan. Mr. Gbagbo’s capture took place in the wake of that operation.

    Le Roy said Mr. Gbagbo and his wife Simone are in an apartment at the Golf Hotel, where Mr. Ouattara’s government has been hunkered down since his election victory in late November. At Mr. Gbagbo’s request, he is under U.N. protection.

    The peacekeeping chief also said the head of Laurent Gbagbo’s forces, General Bruno Dogbo Ble, has called the United Nations to say he wants to surrender and lay down his forces’ weapons. Le Roy said that more than 200 fighters had already effectively surrendered and UNOCI is collecting their weapons to ensure that fighting stops quickly. But he acknowledged there are still some pockets of resistance.

    President-elect Ouattara’s U.N. Ambassador, Youssoufou Bamba, announced Mr. Gbagbo’s capture to reporters. He said he expected fighting to stop as news spread of Mr. Gbagbo’s surrender.

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