Monday, April 11, 2011
Ivory Coast's violent political struggle ended Monday when strongman Laurent Gbagbo was pried from an underground bunker at the presidential residence in Abidjan and captured Monday.
NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton reported that Gbagbo apparently was seized by a combination of French forces under a U.N. mandate and troops loyal to democratically elected leader Alassane Ouattara.
A spokesman said Gbagbo surrendered without resistance, according to Quist-Arcton. It is believed that Gbagbo was taken to Ouattara's hotel headquarters in Abidjan.
"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," U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told Reuters news service Monday.
The move came after an attack by French forces earlier Monday. An embassy official confirmed the detention by phone to an Associated Press reporter in Paris, speaking on condition of anonymity because of government policy.
Gbagbo's capture ends almost five months of a deadly presidential tug of war after the incumbent lost U.N.-certified elections to Ouattara in November but refused to cede power.
The dispute pushed the world's largest cocoa producer to the brink of renewed civil war. Gbagbo's forces controlled the commercial capital, Abidjan, while Ouattara was holed up inside his headquarters inside the city's Golf Hotel, surrounded by U.N. peacekeepers.
The tables turned rapidly when pro-Ouattara forces swept through the country and into Abidjan, Quist-Arcton said. U.N. and French attack helicopters have been bombarding the presidential residence to force the strongman from his bunker.