Ivory Coast generals pledge loyalty to president
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — Five generals pledged their loyalty to President Alassane Ouattara on Tuesday following the capture of the country’s strongman leader after a four-month standoff, as French and Ivorian forces worked to eliminate the last pockets of resistance.
Ouattara’s spokesman Patrick Achi confirmed that the generals who had been fighting on Laurent Gbagbo’s side right up until his capture swore allegiance before Ouattara one by one at the Golf Hotel, where he set up his presidency after Gbagbo refused to acknowledge losing the November presidential election.
Doh Ouattara, a member of the security team at the hotel, said Gbagbo, his wife and entourage were in a suite there. He said the lower-level officials traveling with Gbagbo had been sealed inside the bar of the luxury hotel.
U.N. deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said that “contrary to earlier information, Laurent Gbagbo remains at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan.” He gave no further explanation. Earlier Tuesday, Haq had said that Gbagbo was not at the Golf Hotel anymore and was at an undisclosed location outside Abidjan. It was not clear what led to the confusion.
More than 1 million civilians fled their homes and untold numbers were killed in the more than four-month power struggle between the two rivals. The standoff threatened to re-ignite a civil war in the world’s largest cocoa producer, once divided in two by violence nearly a decade ago.
Armed fighters still prowled the streets of Abidjan even after Gbagbo was arrested by forces backing Ouattara. Residents said that most of the combat had ceased Tuesday, though sporadic gunfire continued and left people cowering in their homes.
Meanwhile, pro-Ouattara fighters sipped French champagne in celebration, while another proudly wore a short black wig he said belonged to Gbagbo’s wife, Simone.
In the country’s south, celebrations of Gbagbo’s arrest continued Tuesday in the cocoa-exporting port of San Pedro. People blocked the a double-lane highway as they sang, danced and chanted, “Gbagbo is a thief.”