Disputed Ivory Coast president Gbagbo negotiating surrender

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The United Nations has announced that three Ivory Coast military leaders are in the process of negotiating a potential surrender for disputed president Laurent Gbagbo.

After several days of fighting, during which forces loyal to internationally-recognized president Alassane Ouattara moved south towards the city of Abidjan, Gbagbo is reported to have taken shelter in a bunker underneath the presidential palace in Abidjan. Pro-Ouattara forces are reported to have surrounded the palace.

According to the UN and French officials, an agreement that would see Gbagbo relinquish power is close to being finalized. Military forces loyal to Gbagbo have already declared a ceasefire. According to France's foreign minister, Alain Juppe, "[w]e are very close to convincing him [Gbagbo] to leave power."

The military officials involved — the heads of the army, police and guard forces — are reported to be requesting guarantees of safety in return for Gbagbo's surrender. A Gbagbo spokesperson, Ahoua Don Mello, said that "direct negotiations based on African Union recommendations" had taken place, though Gbabgo himself said that "on a political level, no decision has yet been taken."