Ivory Coast's Perilous Chess Game

Ivory Coast's Perilous Chess Game

According to the Associated Press, heavy arms fire rang out near the presidential palace as forces loyal to democratically elected leader Alassane Ouattara entered the palace in search of rival Laurant Gbagbo, who is reportedly hiding somewhere in the compound with his family.

Published April 6, 2011

Men captured by forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara and detained for unknown reasons sit near a checkpoint serving as an operating base near a main entrance to Abidjan. (Photo: AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Tuesday we reported that a cease-fire had been called between the two factions fighting for control in the Ivory Coast and negotiations for surrender were being laid out. According to the Associated Press, heavy arms fire rang out near the presidential palace as forces loyal to democratically elected leader Alassane Ouattara entered the palace to search for rival Laurant Gbagbo, who is reportedly hiding somewhere in the compound with his family.

Despite demands from French forces and President Obama to rescind leadership, Gbagbo has yet to step down, telling a French TV station, "I won the election and I'm not negotiating my departure. I find it absolutely incredible that the entire world is playing this ... game of poker." Sources familiar with Gbagbo say the holdout is typical for the former leader, who delayed the presidential elections for five years with extension after extension.

Ouattara forces are under strict orders to capture Gbagbo alive after months of fighting stemming from the Nov. 28 election. Ouattara was declared the winner, taking almost 54 percent of the vote, and has been attempting to run the country from a makeshift base of operations in an Ivory Coast hotel.

This stage of the process is critical. If Gbagbo were to be killed during the assault, the internationally recognized leader, Outtara, would run the risk of an uprising from Gbagbo supporters.

The United Nations is confident that Gbagbo’s capture is "imminent,” according to Choi Young-jin, the top United Nations envoy in Ivory Coast.

Written by Sherri L. Smith

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