ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – Days into an offensive
aimed at dislodging him from the presidential mansion, Ivory Coast’s strongman has
refused to budge from a bunker underneath his home, insisting he would never
surrender despite the immense international pressure bearing down on him.
An adviser for the country’s
democratically elected president Alassane Ouattara said their fighters had
surrounded the property and planned to sit it out.
An armed group backing Ouattara
stormed the gates of Laurent Gbagbo’s home on Wednesday, but are fearful of
killing the entrenched leader and stoking the rage of his supporters.
Some 46 per cent of Ivorians voted
for Gbagbo in the November election that unleashed political chaos.
“I reached the head of state
and his wife less than an hour ago — and no, he will not surrender. President
Gbagbo will not cede,” said Gbagbo’s Europe- based adviser Toussaint Alain.
“It’s a question of principle. President Gbagbo is not a monarch. He is
not a king. He is not an emperor. He is a president elected by his
Amid the, French troops rescued the
Japanese ambassador and seven others after fighters attacked them.
Ouattara has pleaded with the
international community for months to intervene and remove Gbagbo by force,
arguing he wouldn’t leave any other way.
Despite losing the election, Gbagbo
still controls the Ivorian army and has repeatedly used its arsenal of heavy
artillery to attack areas of Abidjan where people voted for his opponent.