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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs