International

President Ouattara Offers Olive Branch, As Violence Spreads In Ivory Coast

Residents walk past barricades and burning tires on the main road leading to the Abobo district of Abidjan. i i

Residents walk past barricades and burning tires on the main road leading to the Abobo district of Abidjan. Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images
Residents walk past barricades and burning tires on the main road leading to the Abobo district of Abidjan.

Residents walk past barricades and burning tires on the main road leading to the Abobo district of Abidjan.

Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images

The AP reports that the Ivory Coast's democratically elected president has offered to lead a unity government with the country's former president, who is refusing to give up power. The AP adds that Alassae Quattara made the offer in a televised speech and in an effort to avoid a civil war.

NPR's Ofeiba Quist Artcon, who is in Abidjan, reports that the violence between Quattara's forces and Laurent Gbagbo's forces has in recent weeks spread to areas that had not been directly affected by fighting. Ofeiba reports:

For weeks Abidjan's volatile Abobo suburb has been the focus of most fighting in Ivory Coast's main city. Abobo is a stronghold of Alassane Ouattara, widely recognized as president-elect. Pro-Ouattara forces and soldiers loyal to his political rival, Laurent Gbagbo, have clashed.

Fighting is spreading, with Ouattara's armed fighters – some dubbed the Invisible Commandos – moving into areas of Abidjan controlled by Gbagbo loyalists. Such moves have people asking if Abidjan is slowly slipping out of the grip of Ivory Coast's disputed leader? And will this end in all-out civil war?

Quoting the United Nations, the AFP reports that 400 people have been killed since the Nov. 28 elections. The UN also estimates that some 300,000 people have been displaced from Abidjan because of the fighting. The AFP adds:

Gbagbo, who lost diplomatic ground when the African Union endorsed his rival's presidency last week, has dismissed reports he is losing military support.

The stalemate has observers fearing a return to a 2002-2003 civil war, which split the country into the rebel-held north and government-run south.

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