News / Africa

Civilians Flee Fighting in Ivory Coast's Commercial Capital

Residents of the popular district of Abobo, a suburb of Abidjan, flee the quarter carrying their luggage on their heads, February 25, 2011
Residents of the popular district of Abobo, a suburb of Abidjan, flee the quarter carrying their luggage on their heads, February 25, 2011

Civilians in Ivory Coast's commercial capital are fleeing a week of fighting between supporters of the country's rival governments. The incumbent president's youth leader wants to block the movement of all U.N. peacekeepers.

Armored personnel carriers of riot police rolled down the main street of Abidjan's Abobo neighborhood Friday, after a week of fighting between security forces loyal to incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo and supporters of the United Nations-certified winner of the election, former prime minister Alassane Ouattara.

Abobo residents say sporadic gunfire overnight ended about 5 a.m. local time, and that many businesses opened for the first time since last Saturday. Men built wooden beds. Women sat in the shade selling peanuts.

Any sense of normalcy in Abobo, however, is disrupted by the steady stream of people leaving. Lines of families carrying suitcases wait for taxis. A boy carrying a chicken in a cardboard box walks along the road with his mother, who is carrying their clothes in a rice bag on her head.

Gbagbo's government says Ouattara's supporters are attacking security forces in Abobo, allegedly organized by former rebels into what local newspapers are calling "mystical commandos." The units are said to be led by Commandant "Funyon," the Mandingo word for wind, because, the newspapers say, he is felt but never seen.

Yves Doumbia, spokesman for Ouattara's party in Abobo, said the uprising here has not been organized by the party or the former rebels. He said the fighting has been carried out by young men opposed to Gbagbo's rule, who have armed themselves with weapons left behind by Gbagbo security forces.

Gbagbo youth leader Charles Ble Goude said the fighting is being backed by U.N. peacekeepers. Goude said the United Nations is no longer in Ivory Coast for peace. He said the United Nations is there to make war in place of the rebels. He said they are supporting rebel radio broadcasts and helping to transport rebel forces. This, he said, can not continue.

Goude told thousands of Gbagbo supporters Friday that they should organize themselves to block the movement of all U.N. peacekeepers in Ivory Coast.

U.N. troops guard the hotel where Ouattara has been living since November's vote.

With African Union heads of state expected to announce their peace plan for Ivory Coast Monday, Ouattara's prime minister said Ivorians should expect nothing from that mediation and should instead rise up in an Egyptian-style revolt against Gbagbo.

The West African regional alliance says it is willing to use force to remove Gbagbo. But Nigerian Foreign Minister Odein Ajumogobia said that is more likely to be part of an economic blockade rather than combat troops.

"Legitimate force, as the expression goes, does not necessarily or indeed imply an invasion or a shooting urban war as you have described it," he said. "Force implies exactly that, but you are using measures other than diplomacy and dialogue to bring about a result. An air and naval blockade, for example, to give teeth to sanctions that have been approved would be part of what I would describe as legitimate force. But these steps, in my view, can only be taken pursuant to appropriate sanctions endorsed by the U.N. Security Council."

With more than 30,000 Ivorian refugees already in Liberia, Ajumogobia said West African  leaders are well aware of the conflict's regional implications.

"I think a huge humanitarian crisis is at stake," he said.  "I talked about large immigrant population. If there is civil unrest or worse, civil war in the country, the implications for the sub-region are enormous and we will all then be engaged in trying to solve a problem we could have prevented."

Clashes between Ouattara and Gbagbo supporters now have spread to the political capital, Yamoussoukro. The United Nations says fighting between government troops and rebels near the border with Liberia is a dangerous escalation of the conflict that violates a six-year-old ceasefire.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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 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