lunes, 11 de abril de 2011

Ivory Coast's Laurent Gbagbo arrested

  Besieged Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo has been detained in the main city Abidjan and delivered to the headquarters of his elected successor. He reportedly surrendered to Alassane Ouattara's forces after French tanks advanced on his residence.
Mr Gbagbo had been refusing to cede power to Mr Ouattara after losing November's presidential election.
France said pro-Ouattara troops had detained him, but aides to Mr Gbagbo said it was French special forces.
Mr Gbagbo was shown on pro-Ouattara TV sitting in a room, looking dazed but apparently uninjured, wearing an open shirt and white vest.
Senior diplomatic sources say Mr Gbagbo was arrested by forces loyal to Mr Ouattara, and a senior French military source tells me not a single French soldier was present at his arrest.
Who arrested him and how it happened is very significant. If Mr Ouattara is perceived to have been put in power by the French, he will have trouble governing because the nationalists will say he is just a puppet.
If Mr Ouattara is fully in charge of all of the disparate forces loyal to him it is unlikely he would allow Mr Gbagbo to be mistreated or killed. He could be put on trial for alleged war crimes.
Even if other soldiers are in charge, there are UN peacekeeping forces at the Golf Hotel where Mr Gbagbo is said to have been taken, and they will be keeping a very close eye on what is going on.
UN peacekeepers had accused pro-Gbagbo forces of endangering the civilian population and asked France, the former colonial power, to take out the defiant leader's heavy weapons.
There have been allegations of atrocities by both pro-Gbagbo and pro-Ouattara forces.
Ivory Coast's permanent representative to the UN, Youssoufou Bamba, said Mr Gbagbo would stand trial.
In London, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said that if charges were brought, Mr Gbagbo should be tried in an orderly manner.
Anne Ouloto, a spokeswoman for Mr Ouattara, told AFP news agency that Mr Gbagbo was at the Golf Hotel with his wife and his son Michel.
The hotel, where Mr Ouattara has his headquarters, is protected by both pro-Ouattara forces and UN peacekeepers.
Whether it was Mr Ouattara's forces or the French who captured him is still open to question, the BBC's Mark Doyle reports from Abidjan.
According to our correspondent's sources, it was the French army who were in the lead heading towards the residence of Mr Gbagbo on Monday with a heavily armoured column.
But France's ambassador to Ivory Cost, Jean-Marc Simon, told AFP news agency: "Laurent Gbagbo was arrested by the Republican Forces of Ivory Coast."
An unnamed French government source added: "Mr Gbagbo was arrested by Mr Ouattara's troops, that is true, but not by French special forces, who did not go into the enclosure of Mr Gbagbo's residence."
Eyewitnesses quoted by AFP said pro-Ouattara forces had entered the presidential compound while French and UN armoured vehicles stood on a road leading to the complex.
The allegation that French special forces had seized Mr Gbagbo initially came from Gbagbo aide Toussaint Alain.
Speaking to Reuters news agency from Paris, he said: "Gbagbo has been arrested by French special forces in his residence and has been handed over to the rebel leaders."
Mr Gbagbo's special adviser, Bernard Houdin, told French TV separately that the incumbent leader would never have been taken without French help.
"He has not been arrested by the forces of Mr Alassane Ouattara but by the French special forces and whatever [French Ambassador] Simon says about it, this is the sequence in which things happened," he told LCI by phone.
"Without the French military intervention... I believe that Mr Gbagbo's forces would have comfortably defeated Ouattara's army in Abidjan."
Escalating conflict Forces loyal to Mr Ouattara launched an offensive from their stronghold in the north at the end of March, after months of political deadlock during which Mr Gbagbo refused to recognise his rival's election victory.

Laurent Gbagbo

  • 2000: Declared winner of disputed elections
  • 2005: UN Security Council agrees to let Gbagbo stay on provisionally as president without holding elections, even though his term has ended
  • 2007: Agrees power-sharing government with former rebels
  • 2010: Presidential elections finally held after multiple delays. Ouattara declared the winner, Gbagbo refuses to go after UN says he lost
  • 2011: Captured by French forces and handed over to Ouattara supporters
As they closed in on Mr Gbagbo's power base in Abidjan, UN and French attack helicopters targeted heavy weapons being used by his forces.
Attempts to negotiate his exit failed, and his forces appeared to be making a comeback by the end of last week, even threatening the hotel used by Mr Ouattara.
On Sunday, UN and French helicopters launched a new wave of air strikes, and on Monday French tanks were seen advancing on the residence.
The UN announced that Mr Gbagbo had surrendered to Mr Ouattara's forces.
"The United Nations mission in Cote d'Ivoire [Ivory Coast] has confirmed that former President Laurent Gbagbo has surrendered to the forces of Alassane Ouattara and is currently in their custody," UN spokesman Farhan Haq said.
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