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Gbagbo Surrender Stalls Over Refusal to Admit Electoral Defeat

Ivory Coast's incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo (file photo)

Ivory Coast's incumbent president is refusing to admit electoral defeat, blocking efforts to negotiate the terms of his surrender as he is surrounded by fighters backing the country's internationally-recognized leader.

Ivory Coast's incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo is refusing to acknowledge that he lost November's vote. That admission is central to the terms of a surrender being negotiated by France, the United Nations, and the government of the country's internationally-recognized leader, Alassane Ouattara.

Mr. Gbagbo's forces called for a ceasefire, stopping nearly one week of fighting for control of the commercial capital after U.N. and French helicopters attacked heavy weapons at Mr. Gbagbo's residence and his main military barracks.

U.N. peacekeepers are offering protection to members of the Gbagbo military who lay down their weapons.

But while the fighting has stopped for the moment, the political crisis continues as Mr. Gbagbo sits in an underground bunker, refusing to back down from his claim that he was re-elected when the constitutional council annulled as fraudulent nearly ten percent of all ballots cast in his run-off election with Mr. Ouattara.

Mr. Ouattara's claim to the presidency is based on electoral commission results certified by the United Nations.

African Union officials say Mr. Gbagbo told Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz that he is ready to give up power. The Economic Community of West African States says it will ensure a safe and dignified exit. But until Mr. Gbagbo agrees, in writing, that Mr. Ouattara won the vote their four-month standoff drags on.

The European Union and the African Union says recovery and reconciliation in Ivory Coast are only possible if Mr. Gbagbo accepts Mr. Ouattara as the legitimate president.