Tense stand-off continues in Abidjan as Gbagbo clings to power

Accra, Ghana (PANA) - The tense stand-off in the Ivorian commercial city of Abidjan continued on Wednesday as incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo continued to cling to power and residents remained locked up their rooms without electricity, water and food supplies.

After hopes were raised on Tuesday night of an imminent ceasefire and surrender of Gbagbo, Abidjan residents woke up on Wednesday to hear his defiant voice of not giving up power since he is the elected president of Cote d'Ivoire, according to reports monitored in neighbouring Accra.

Abidjan residents said fighting resumed on Wednesday after the breakdown of talks as forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the man internationally recognised as the elected president of Cote d'Ivoire, attacked the official residence of the president, where Gbagbo is believed to be holed up in a bunker with his family.

By sunset, Gbagbo's forces had repelled the attack and the uncertainty continued.

Residents also speak of fear from hooligans who have taken advantage of the situation to rob and harass them.

Abidjan residents have been subjected to tense moments since last Thursday night when forces loyal to Ouattara entered the city to push for a military solution to the political stalemate following the controversial presidential run-off elections in November last year that was claimed by the two men.

The city has seen heavy fighting since last Friday as pro-Ouattara forces tried to capture the heavily defended strategic areas of the state television station, the presidential palace, the presidential residence and army barracks from Gbagbo's forces.

In the end, it took the assistance of French and UN aerial bombardment on Monday night to bring Gbagbo close to signing his surrender and possible departure from the country. Now, that surrender is off the table.

Tens of  thousands of people have fled the fighting and live in neighbouring Liberia and Ghana while a lot more people have been displaced internally as they seek solace elsewhere.

Cote d'Ivoire's latest political crisis started in December last year when the Electoral Commission declared Ouattara winner of the 28 November presidential run-off poll.

However, the Constitutional Council cancelled hundreds of thousands of votes from Ouattara's northern stronghold and declared Gbagbo the winner.

The international community, from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the AU, European Union and UN, said Ouattara won and asked Gbagbo to hand power to him. However, he refused leading to the military action and bloodbath.
-0- PANA MA 6April2011

06 april 2011 20:49:19

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