Strategic Ivory Coast Towns Fall To The Opposition
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
The man the international community recognizes as the legitimate winner is driving his troops towards the coastal city of Abidjan. NPR's Ofeibea Quist- Arcton reports.
OFEIBEA QUIST: A resident told the BBC there was little if any resistance as Ouattara's Republican forces swept through Yamoussoukro.
OK: OK. 'Cause right now we can hear...
QUIST: Right now we can hear shooting coming from all around the town. I think it's coming from the strategic points of the town. It's the soldiers loyal to Alassane Ouattara, who's entered the town. People are in the streets, waving at them. They're clapping and cheering for them. They're very happy. Sometimes you hear the odd burst of gunfire. In these circumstances, people have to be very careful.
QUIST: Gerard Araud is a French U.N. ambassador.
GERARD ARAUD: This resolution is maybe the last message that we wanted to send to Gbagbo, which is very simple. Gbagbo must go. It's the only way to avoid a full-fledged civil war and maybe bloody violence in the streets of Abidjan.
QUIST: Ouattara's and Gbagbo's forces have clashed in Abidjan this past month, with more deaths and injuries. And any possible battle for Abidjan or a last stand by Gbagbo's troops could be deadly, warms Chris Fomunyoh, the Africa director of the Washington-based National Democratic Institute.
CHRIS FOMUNYOH: That would be a nightmare scenario, but my hope is that ultimately as various towns and military garrisons begin to fall into the pro-Ouattara camp, that some of the hardliners within then be Laurent Gbagbo camp will realize that this fight is not worth putting on.
QUIST: The international criminal court has warned it may prosecute those responsible in both camps for human rights abuses in Ivory Coast. But Alassane Ouattara's recently appointed U.N. ambassador, Youssoufou Bamba, is upbeat that the end is in sight. Speaking in New York, he confidently predicts it's only a matter of time until Ouattara takes over as president.
YOUSSOUFOU BAMBA: Believe me, tomorrow we will be taking our luncheon at the presidential palace. By tomorrow evening it will be at the presidential palace. President Ouattara will be there. Because Mr. Gbagbo, he has confiscated power. He has lost by the ballot and he has to go.
QUIST: Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, Accra.
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