Ivory Coast: live as it is unraveling!
Live updates from the conflict in Ivory Coast, as UN and French forces attack the main city Abidjan and President Laurent Gbagbo is reported to be negotiating surrender.
• Gbagbo ‘ready to surrender and has asked for UN protection’
• Gbagbo’s generals are negotiating handover of power
• Fighting stops around Abijdan, palace falls, Gbagbo in bunker
• Ivorian minister defects, takes refuge in French embassy
22.15 That’s the end of the live blog for tonight, thanks for reading. You can get all the latest updates here from 6am tomorrow.
22.05 The EU’s chief diplomat and the head of the African Union Commission have said “recovery and reconciliation” in the Ivory Coast is only possible if Laurent Gbagbo accepts Alassane Ouattara as the legitimate president. Catherine Ashton and Jean Ping said in a statement:
We agreed that Laurent Gbagbo had to step down as the only way out of the current crisis, and that work should now start to promote recovery and reconciliation, under the leadership of the democratically elected President Alassane Ouattara
21.05 Laurent Gbagbo has claimed the Ivorian army has called for a ceasefire but he denied reports he was ready to surrender and reiterated that he considered himself the winner of last November’s elections in a telephone interview with France’s LCI television:
The army has called for the suspension of hostilities … and it is currently discussing the conditions of a ceasefire with the other forces on the ground, but on a political level no decision has yet been taken
20.36 Gbagbo has claimed that to return the Ivory Coast to peace he must hold talks with Ouattara, according to reports.
19.50 There are conflicting reports coming out of the Ivory Coast: Reuters is now reporting that an official has told them Gbagbo has not yet surrendered, but has expressed a willingness to do so and requested UN protection.
The official said: “He (Gbagbo) has not surrendered, but has expressed a willingness to surrender and has asked for U.N. protection”.
18.58 Gbagbo has surrendered and asked for UN protection, according to Reuters which has seen a UN internal document.
18.42 Meanwhile, the African Union’s Peace and Security Council has condemned the “abuses” carried out in the Ivory Coast since last November’s disputed polls.
18.41 Four French tanks and several armoured vehicles flying the French flag have crossed bridges formerly held by forces loyal to Gbagbo in Abidjan, Reuters reports.
We’ve launched an appeal for children affected by the violence in the #ivorycoast Please help if you can.
18.24 A statement released by the UN mission UNOCI discloses that three senior generals loyal to Gbagbo telephoned the UN mission this morning to say that an order had been given to all forces to halt fighting.
“The order was also given to hand over arms to UNOCI and its forces and to ask for protection,” the statement added.
18.17 UN talks with Gbagbo are continuing, accordind to AFP. The agency reports that UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told a news briefing: “There are discussions going on at the moment.
“I think this is an important moment and we have to see what happens.”
18.05 CNN’s Christabelle Uffey says on Twitter:
@CNNChristabelle U.N. Special Envoy to the Ivory Coast Young-jin Choi tells #CNN International that combat is over, terms of Gbago surrender being finalized. “All generals, final hardliners have surrendered. No more organized battle. We can say combat is over.”
17.55 More from Reuters, who have published an interesting analysis of the challenges facing Ivory Coast once Gbagbo leaves:
Laurent Gbagbo may soon be gone from Ivory Coast, but Alassane Ouattara will inherit a divided country, an unsolved massacre and potential chaos in Abidjan.
17.46 Gbagbo has had discussions with the president of Mauritania over an orderly exit from power, Ramtane Lamamra, the commissioner of the African Union’s Peace and Security Council, has told Reuters. Asked whether Gbagbo would be willing to step aside, Mr Lamamra said: “That’s the understanding of the President of Mauritania, who has been personally in touch with him.”
17.29 Hamadoun Toure, a spokesman for UNOCI, the UN mission in the country, says that the fighting may be nearly over. Via AP:
One might think that we are getting to the end of the crisis. We spoke to his close aides, some had already defected, some are ready to stop fighting. He is alone now, he is in his bunker with a handful of supporters and family members. So is he going to last or not? I don’t know.
17.28 More gunfire heard in Abidjan, Senam Beheton reports on Twitter.
17.26 Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, has demanded that Gbagbo sign a document recognising Ouattara as the president:
We demand, and I have just had a conversation with the Secretary General of the United Nations on this who agrees entirely, that Gbagbo’s departure be preceded by the publication of a document with his signature in which he resigns from office and recognises Ouattara as president.
17.20 From earlier, here is a video of the joint UN-French forces firing on Gbagbo’s Abijan stronghold.
17.13 For those of you who would like to read President Obama’s statement in full, it’s here.
Ouattara-supporting soldiers ride an armed vehicle in front of the Golf hotel in Abidjan. (AFP)
16.47 Nigeria has backed the UN-French efforts in Ivory Coast. The country’s foreign minister, Odein Ajumogobia, told AFP:
I do not know the precise circumstances of their engagement, but I will say this UNSC resolution 1975 is broad enough to permit their engagement if the circumstances dictate that they should in order to protect innocent civilians. I do not believe that either UNOCI (the UN mission in Ivory Coast) or the French force stationed in Abidjan would presume to act outside their UN-sanctioned mandate.
Asked whether the UN resolution was in line with the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS)’s position, Ajumogobia said: “absolutely – all necessary measures to protect innocent civilians caught up in this senseless violence.”
16.44 More from Senam Beheton on Twitter, reporting on a joint press conference from Alain Juppe and Ban Ki Moon:
@SenamBeheton Alain Juppe: Intervention in #IvoryCoast was planned and result of FRCI offensive with goal to eliminate heavy weapons.
Juppe and Ban Ki Moon: “Gbagbo must sign document saying He renounce his claim to power and recognize Ouattara as leader.”
Alain Juppe: UNOCI [the UN peacekeeping task force] must keep Gbagbo and his family while we think about what to do with them.
16.30 As well as a stern message to President Gbagbo, Mr Obama has been careful to warn his rival Ouattara:
The United States joins with the international community in our deep concern about reports of massacres in the western region of the country, and the dangers faced by innocent civilians – particularly the most vulnerable.
All parties must show restraint and respect the rights of the Ivorian people, and I welcome President Ouattara’s pledge to ensure accountability for those who have carried out attacks against civilians.
16.27 Senam Beheton on Twitter reports that the “negotiation” claims may be premature:
@SenamBeheton Ahoua Don Mello on @France24_fr says Gbagbo is not negotiating anything. France is trying to kill him.
16.21 Earlier today, the BBC ran a fascinating eyewitness account from a resident of Abidjan:
The stories that are coming out of the west – Daloa, Duekoue, Guiberoua – these are the hometowns of people like [Chelsea footballer Didier] Drogba.
I mean the worst publicity that you can acquire is the story that Drogba’s town has been burned down.
Barack Obama has called on President Gbagbo to stand down “immediately”. (EPA)
16.12 We have a fuller quote from US President Barack Obama, demanding that Mr Gbagbo stands down:
Tragically, the violence that we are seeing could have been averted had Laurent Gbagbo respected the results of last year’s presidential election. To end this violence and prevent more bloodshed, former president Gbagbo must stand down immediately, and direct those who are fighting on his behalf to lay down their arms. Every day that the fighting persists will bring more suffering, and further delay the future of peace and prosperity that the people of Cote d’Ivoire deserve.
I strongly support the role that United Nations peacekeepers are playing as they enforce their mandate to protect civilians, and I welcome the efforts of French forces who are supporting that mission.
16.03 Gbagbo is still entirely surrounded in his bunker, with just his family and immediate circle, according to Al Jazeera.
Adam Gaye, a west African analyst, has told the channel that Mr Ouattara’s government will be tainted by the loss of life in the uprising against Mr Gbagbo.
15.44 President Barack Obama has called on Mr Gbagbo to quit “immediately”, according to AFP. He has also voiced strong support for the UN efforts in the country. More to follow.
15.24 Andrew Mitchell, the International Development Secretary, confirms that up to a million people have been forced to flee the violence:
Britain has responded swiftly. We are seeking to provide up to 25,000 displaced people with enough food to last them for up to six months, to supply enough tents to shelter up to 15,000 people, to treat 10,000 people for malnutrition and to help 3,000 West African nationals to return home.
15.17 A group of African intellectuals has protested against the French and UN intervention in Ivory Coast. The Dakar-based Committee of African Intellectuals said in a letter sent to the French ambassador in Senegal:
If it is the future of Ivory Coast that so interests you, and not controlling the country’s people and resources, this objective is not attainable by arms, but by the Ivorians renegotiating themselves.
15.01 The British Red Cross says that more than one million people have fled the conflict:
14.55 A little earlier, one of the Gbagbo government’s lawyers, Lucie Bourthoumieux, denied that the country’s foreign minister, Alcide Djedje, had defected, saing that he was being held against his will at the French embassy:
He has absolutely not resigned and is currently being scandalously held against his will.
Ouattara’s troops patrol the streets of Abidjan while U.N. and French forces fire on Gbagbo’s soldiers, earlier today. (REUTERS)
14.50 Fuller quote from Ahoua Don Mello, the Gbagbo government’s spokesman, on negotiations ahead of the president’s possible departure from power:
There are direct negotiations based on African Union recommendations which said Alassane Ouattara is president. They are also negotiating judicial and security conditions for Gbagbo’s camp and his relatives.
14.43 Alain Juppe says “We are very close to convincing [Gbagbo] to leave power.”
14.30 Now President Gbagbo’s own spokesman has told Reuters that they are negotiating terms for the president’s departure.
14.26 Two Ivory Coast generals are negotiating the president’s surrender, according to Francois Fillon, the French Prime Minister:
As we speak we are speaking to two generals to negotiate President Gbagbo’s surrender.
14.15 Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, says that he is “aware” of talks with Gbagbo about the Ivorian president stepping down.
We are aware. If there are possibilities to see him leave power then we are ready.
14.10 Alcide Djédjé has told Radio France International that he has gone to the French embassy in order to broker peace:
I’m at the residence of the French ambassador to negotiate a ceasefire. [Gbagbo’s departure] is another stage that I am not in charge of. We have to wait for the coming hours on that. I had a mandate to negotiate this stage [a ceasefire]. Now we have to wait.
14.07 The Ivorian crisis could be over very soon, according to Gerard Longuet, the French defence minister:
We are in a situation where everything could be resolved in the next few hours. The use of force is not reasonable. This is what has been shown by UNOCI [the UN peacekeeping mission in Ivory Coast]and which must convince Laurent Gbagbo and especially his friends to accept the decision of universal suffrage recognised by the international system.
13.54 AP confirms that forces backing Ouattara have seized Gbagbo’s home, and a senior diplomat has spoken on condition of anonymity saying that the fighters are trying to coax Gbagbo himself out of a reinforced bunker. The diplomat also confirms that Alcide Djédjé has abandoned the regime and sought refuge in the French embassy. Mr Djédjé, one of Pres Gbagbo’s oldest friends, co-founded Gbagbo’s political party and spent time with him in jail several decades ago.
A soldier loyal to Ivory Coast presidential claimant Ouattara lies on a road as fighting flares across the country’s main city Abidjan. (REUTERS)
13.13 A fuller quote from Gen Mangou, via AFP, saying that his troops have laid down their weapons and calling on the UN to declare a ceasefire:
Following the bombardment by the French forces on some of our positions and certain strategic points in the city of Abidjan, we have ourselves stopped fighting and have asked the general commanding ONUCI (the UN force) for a ceasefire [to allow for the] protection of the population, soldiers, the Republican Guard ensuring the president’s security, the president himself and his family, and members of government. We ask UNOCI to ensure there is no looting or witch hunts.
13.11 The BBC’s Andrew Harding has some confirmation that the fighting is coming to an end:
@hardingbbc Big news here in Abidjan. UN confirms Gbagbo trapped in basement. Generals defecting. UN urges end. Will the militia follow suit?
13.06 General Mangou, the Ivorian army chief, has told that he has requested a ceasefire from UN peacekeepers, who have taken part in an assault against pro-Gbagbo forces.
13.01 A “senior diplomat” has told AP that Outtara forces have now seized the presidential home in Abidjan. Gbagbo and his inner circle are sheltering in a bunker.
A soldier loyal to Ivory Coast presidential claimant Ouattara sits along a road in Abidjan. (REUTERS)
12.47 Senam Beheton, a Washington-based Ivorian political scientist, speculates on Twitter that Djédjé is acting under orders from Mr Gbagbo:
@SenamBeheton Alcide Djedje probably went 1st to negotiate Gbagbo’s turn. He will take the same tunnel to French Embassy. Djedje can’t just get up and defect. Djedje is on his last diplomatic mission for Gbagbo. Negotiate his exit to French protection.
12.40 A direct quote from Alcide Djédjé, who is reported to have defected from Mr Gbagbo’s government – via AFP:
President Gbagbo is at his home with his family, including his wife, members of his government and his cabinet. The residence is under attack. I am at the French (ambassador’s) residence.
He did not explain why he had sought refuge there.
Alcide Djédjé, the Ivorian foreign minister who is reportedly taking refuge in the French embassy in Abidje. (REUTERS)
12.38 Reports, via AFP, that Gbagbo’s forces have stopped fighting. The army chief of staff loyal to Mr Gbagbo, General Philippe Mangou, told the news agency that his troops had stopped fighting against Alassane Ouattara’s forces.
12.36 Russia has joined the African Union in questioning the use of force by UN and French forces in Ivory Coast, saying that they must remain neutral. The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, told reporters:
We are studying the legal side of the situation, because the peacekeepers had a mandate which obliges them to be neutral and impartial.
He says that they have “not heard very clear answers” from the UN Security Council and have requested an urgent briefing.
12.33 Save the Children have reported via Twitter that the staff at their Abidjan branch are caught up in the fighting:
@SaveChildrenPR We’re concerned for our staff, trapped in #Abidjan in the midst of the fighting in Cote d’Ivoire. ‘We heard something fly overhead,didn’t sound like a helicopter. Trying 2 ensure all r safe. We can hear gunshots & heavy mortar fire, but not sure where it is coming from,’ say our staff. Our staff have had bullets on their roofs and others have felt their houses tremble with shock of heavy mortar rounds.
The charity has an appeal running in the country.
12.28 The African Union has condemned the French and UN intervention in Ivory Coast and Libya, according to Reuters. African Union chief Teodoro Obiang Nguema said that Africa must be allowed to manage its own affairs.
A UN peacekeeper during battle with troops supporting Laurent Gbagbo in Abidjan (AP)
12.26 According to Mr Ouattara’s spokesman, Mr Gbagbo’s residence is now surrounded and Mr Gbagbo and his family are sheltering in the basement.
12.23 A bit more on Alcide Djédjé’s apparent defection – I’ll quote the Reuters report in full:
Alcide Djedje, the foreign minister of Ivory Coast’s incumbent leader Laurent Ggbagbo, is at the residence of the French ambassador in Abidjan, an Ivorian source told Reuters on Tuesday.
“It is true that the minister Djedje is at the residence of the French ambassador,” the source said asking not to be named. The source added that Djedje was there to negotiate, but did not explain what for.
The TCI television channel controlled by Gbagbo’s rival Alassane Ouattara said the foreign minister and his chief of protocol were seeking refuge at the residence.
12.17 Don Ahou Mello, a spokesman for President Gbagbo, has told Associated Press that the presidential home has been hit at least 50 times in an attack by a United Nations Mi-24 helicopter. No confirmation so far. Mr Mello refused to be drawn on whether Pres Gbagbo is considering resigning.
A Mi-24 helicopter, similar to that reportedly used in an attack on the Abidjan presidential palace. (WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
12:12 Further to that, it appears that Mr Djédjé may have defected and is now in refuge in the French ambassador’s residence. More when we have it.
12:08 Alcide Djédjé, the foreign minister in President Gbagbo’s government, has told AFP that the president and his family are at home and “under attack” by forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara.
12:03 Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, has spoken to the recognised winner of Ivory Coast’s presidential elections Alassane Ouattara today, according to a spokesman from Mr Sarkozy’s office.
UN peacekeepers from Jordan patrol the streets in Abidjan (AP)
11.56 The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) has called upon President Gbagbo to step down, according to Reuters, saying it is ready to help him ensure a “safe and dignified exit”:
The (ECOWAS) Commission urges Mr. Gbagbo once again to consider the greater interest of the Ivorian nation, as well as the unacceptably high levels of human suffering, death and destruction, and cede power immediately.
In this regard, the Commission stands ready to ensure that the conditions prescribed (by the African Union Peace and Security Council), especially with regard to ensuring a safe and dignified exit for Mr. Gbagbo, are fulfilled.
11.06 Gbagbo’s camp is also now denying that he has reached the point of surrender.
10.49 The Gbagbo camp is now saying that an assault by UN and French forces on two military camps killed many, as soldiers lived with their families on the bases.
10.40 The Telegraph’s Aislinn Laing, on Ivory Coast reports:
Rinaldo Depagne, Ivory Coast expert for the of the International Crisis Group, said that Mr Ouattara will be hoping his forces follow his orders not to kill Gbagbo if they find him: “Some of the Force Nouvelles (soldiers) I met when the war started in 2002 have a special bullet they keep in their pockets they say they are saving for Mr Gbagbo.”
If reports Mr Gbagbo has been captured are true, he advised Mr Ouattara not to rush into setting up his government. “It’s very difficult to install a cabinet in a city of chaos and anarchy and if it’s rushed, it could unravel, the glue holding them all together could melt.”
Mr Gbagbo, Ivory Coast’s president since 2000, has refused to step down despite losing an election in November last year (AFP/GETTY)
10.35 Laurent Gbagbo’s spokesman has insisted that his forces remain in control of his residence, presidential palace and the country’s biggest military campaing Abidjan.
08.55 The Telegraph’s Africa Correspondent Aislinn Laing is reporting that defeated Presidential candidate Laurent Gbagbo is negotiating his surrender.
Forces loyal to Mr Ouattara, Ivory Coast’s internationally recognised president, said they had captured Mr Gbagbo’s Abidjan residence. Heavy weapons fire rocked the economic capital early on Tuesday, after UN and French helicopters last night attacked targets near the presidential residence. Mr Gbagbo’s presidential palace and two military camps under his control, were struck, the UN confirmed, in retaliation for “reckless and mindless” attacks on civilians and UN personnel.
Our team in north Africa:
Damien McElroy is the Foreign Affairs Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph.
Ben Farmer has been Afghanistan Correspondent for The Daily Telegraph and The Sunday Telegraph since 2008. He previously worked as a reporter in London.
Nick Meo is a Foreign Correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph.
Aislinn Laing (formerly Simpson) is the Southern Africa Correspondent for the Telegraph titles, based in Johannesburg. She was previously a defence correspondent and general news reporter based in London.
Source: The Telegraph