Power struggle over poll leads to armed clashes in Ivory Coast
Friday 17 December 2010
Street gun battles in Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, left at least four dead yesterday as supporters of the man widely recognised as the winner of last month's presidential poll tried to wrest control of key state institutions from the incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo.
A senior opposition official cited a higher figure of 18 killed, while the US State Department added that a rocket propelled grenade struck the American embassy. Outside Abidjan, rebels supporting the challenger, Alassane Ouattara, exchanged fire with the army. "There is shooting all over the place. There is artillery, there are explosions," one witness told Reuters.
The escalation of violence raises concerns that the West African country, formerly a haven of stability in a troubled region and the posting of choice for French expatriates, could slip back into full-scale civil war. A resumption of the 2002-03 conflict that split Ivory Coast between its north and south would have an impact beyond the country's borders, destablising fragile neighbours like Liberia.
The UN, the US and the former colonial power France all recognise Mr Ouattara – who draws much of his support from the country's rebel-held north – as the winner of the 28 November election.
However, the constitutional court annulled over 10 percent of votes cast and anointed Mr Gbagbo – who is rooted in the south and still commands the loyalty of the army – as Ivory Coast's legitimate ruler.
Since then, the country has functioned with two parallel presidents.
Mr Ouattara established his headquarters in Abidjan's Golf Hotel, while Mr Gbagbo remains in the presidential palace, facing down rising international pressure.
With the stand-off in its third week Mr Ouattara urged his supporters to march on the national broadcaster, which affirmed Mr Gbagbo as president in the days after 28 November.
However, the protesters were unable to achieve their objective. Troops blockaded the streets with wooden tables and benches, while others stood on guard in armoured personnel carriers. Security forces fired live rounds and tear gas, and bursts of light and heavy machine gun fire rattled across the city. Some demonstrators hurled stones from rooftops.
"They fired guns to push us back when we tried to march down the street," one protester told Reuters.
- 2 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
- 3 General Election 2015: 14-year-old boy asks Nick Clegg – 'can you kill Katie Hopkins?'
- 4 University student in court for allegedly covering housemates' food in window cleaner and spit
- 5 Ryan Gosling posts tribute to 'Ryan Gosling Won't Eat His Cereal' creator Ryan McHenry
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Who should I vote for? The Independent quiz matches best political party for undecided voters ahead of the general election
Mysterious 'X-Files' sounds heard miles above the Earth
Garland shooting: Isis claims attack on Prophet Mohamed cartoon contest in Texas as its first action on US soil
Met Gala 2015: Beyoncé manages to out-skimp Rihanna, Miley and Kim Kardashian combined with near-naked ensemble
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
General election live: SNP suspends two members for disrupting Labour rally
£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...
£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...
£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...