Côte d’Ivoire troops seal off seat of Ouattara ‘govt’

Troops loyal to isolated Côte d’Ivoire leader Laurent Gbagbo sealed off roads to the hotel that houses his enemy Alassane Ouattara’s rival government on Monday, triggering a tense armed stand-off.

As EU foreign ministers met in Brussels to agree sanctions against Gbagbo’s administration, the isolated incumbent deployed troops and gendarmes on access routes to Ouattara’s United Nations-protected waterfront base.

Gbagbo and Ouattara both declared themselves president in the wake of last month’s disputed election. Ouattara has been recognised by the international community, but Ivorian army chiefs remain loyal to Gbagbo.

Former rebel fighters from the New Forces (FN) armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades took up defensive positions around the Golf Hotel, alongside UN peacekeepers equipped with armoured vehicles.

A few hundred metres away, gendarmes and presidential guards loyal to Gbagbo took control of two positions on the road running past the hotel, effectively controlling access to Ouattara’s base in the port city.

The loyalist forces were equipped with trucks mounted with machine-guns and had rocket-launchers of their own, but there was no immediate sign that they were preparing to launch an assault.

“They came at around 8am local time and tried to stop people getting through,” said Ouattara spokesperson Patrick Achi. “Some FN members approached them, but there was no incident.”

‘They are not here to make war on Ivorians’
The 65-year-old Gbagbo occupies the presidential palace and his ministers appear to exercise control over their departments, while Ouattara is trying to control the levers of state from the heavily defended Golf Hotel.

Gbagbo has appointed his own ministers and insists he is the constitutional president, despite a UN Security Council resolution calling on him to step down and threats of US and EU sanctions.

UN peacekeepers are deployed to protect Ouattara’s rival administration, but Côte d’Ivoire’s pro-Gbagbo army chief-of-staff General Philippe Mangou warned them on Sunday not to get drawn into fighting.

“We simply advise our brothers in the ‘impartial forces’ to never again get the blood of Ivorians on their hands. They are not here to make war on Ivorians,” he said, in a televised address.

The November 28 presidential election was supposed to mark a turning point in Côte d’Ivoire’s decade-long crisis and restore elected constitutional rule to a country divided into rival northern and southern armed camps.

Instead it has deepened divisions, with Gbagbo retaining the armed forces and most of the economic and administrative levers of state, while Ouattara has donned the mantle of international legitimacy. — AFP

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Christophe Koffi
Christophe Koffi
Social and environmental scientist, focused on forest, food security and climate change adaptation.

Two dead in new ANC KwaZulu-Natal killings

A Mtubatuba councillor and a Hammarsdale ANC Youth League leader were shot yesterday near their homes

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it

Press Releases

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations