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Gbagbo arrest: Relief - for now

Andrew Harding | 18:29 UK time, Monday, 11 April 2011

First we heard the car horns, then the cheering. Before long, thousands of people were flooding onto the streets, singing: "Gbagbo is gone," and waving at passing vehicles.

Many then rushed into roadside bars to try to catch a glimpse of the drama on television.
Former President Laurent Gbagbo looked tired but surprisingly relaxed to me, even in his undershirt. But it's hard to tell from silent TV footage. This wasn't a "dignified exit" by any analysis, but it could have been a lot worse.

"The head of the snake has been cut off," said one soldier loyal to elected President Alassane Ouattara. "Gbagbo's militia will simply vanish now. The war is over."
"It's great," said another man. "We are just so happy, and so relieved. The war is finished now."

Is it? Much, I suspect, will depend on how Mr Ouattara handles the next few days, and what signals he sends regarding the treatment of both Mr Gbagbo and his armed supporters.

Troops now consolidating their hold on Abidjan will need to act forcefully to ensure there is not a rash of reprisal killings.

Credit for the actual arrest of Mr Gbagbo is, inevitably, being keenly claimed by Ouattara's forces. The UN and French will no doubt be eager to play down their own roles, but the video footage tells a different story, and they will struggle to convince Mr Gbagbo's most ardent supporters that this wasn't some Western plot.

Still, the general mood as far as I can judge it now, is one of widespread relief.

Let's see how long that lasts.


  • Comment number 1.

    This seems to be a rather biased account. Live updates from people in Abidjan indicate there is still fear and disorder, for example looting, far from the "widespread relief" this posting suggest. So Gbagbo looked "surprisingly relaxed even in his undershirt"? Would you have preferred to see him naked and agitated, would that have it made it "a lot worse" - the sort of thing Western correspondents like to see in Africa? Come on BBC, what happened to objectivity and factual reporitng?

  • Comment number 2.

    Gbagbo tried to take the world hostage with his threats of unleashing his thugs to commit genocide. For once the international community and the UN mission here, UNOCI, should be thanked for efforts in preventing another Rwanda. The South Korean gentleman, Y J Choi, will always be a hero in Cote d'Ivoire..

  • Comment number 3.

    It is the same way that Patrice Lumumba was betrayed by Mumbutu and moise Tshombe under the auspices of Belgium, the CIA and UN forces. WE are witnessing exactly the same thing 50 years after. President Gbagbo captured by french and UN troops and handed over to the junta. A few Africans are rejicing just as they did when Lumumba was arrested and humliated.

    Again to say people are rejoicing in Cote D Ivoire or Abidjan following the arrest of president Gbagbo by imperialistic forces is giving a wrong picture of the updates and that is exactly how the imbroglio was reported. It is sad, some people might have attained their objectives but our struggle against servitude continues.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    For those shouting 'imperialist' and 'imperialism', where were their voices when Ivorians were dying needlessly? Are they saying the two protagonist and their supporters should have been allowed to fight in perpetuity? When the same international community stood and watched millions perished in Rwanda didn't the same Pan Africanist blame the international community for their inaction? Instead shouting at international community and blaming them, they should rather direct their anger against their Pan African leaders who refuse to go when their time is up.

  • Comment number 6.

    I certainly agree with skabdallah. If Africans are serious about 'Africannism' every effort should be made by Africanists to stop the unnecessary loss of lives in the fight for political leadership. If Africanists sit by idly while innocent lives are being taken, like in Ivory Coast, someone then must draw the line. For me, it doesn't matter who that someone is. What matters is an end to cannage. It does not matter who arrested Gbagbo. Once sanity can return to that once peaceful country, those who arrested him should receive their flowers.

  • Comment number 7.

    There are people rejoicing on the streets to counter some arguements here. No doubt they are Ouattara's supporters and some neutrals. I just read up on the history between the two guys abd realise why Gbagbo was so stubborn i.e in refusing to relinquish power. Ouattara was a prime minister at one point and Gbagbo was the main opposition guy and Ouattara i believe had him jailed for a while. Gbagbo started off well and then like people before him, became a tyrant. In all fairness, both should be investigated for the attrocities committed by their troops. Somebody said history is repeating itself which might be true. I just hope that Ouattara is a changed man and from this point on, unites and puts the interest of the people first and foremost and when the next election comes around, should he lose, should step down gracefully

  • Comment number 8.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 9.

    Laurent Gbagbo was captured and what happened with his general of street Mr Charles Ble Goude! in My Continent people are saying Ble Goude was captured also!

  • Comment number 10.

    Gbagbo's demise should send a strong message to sit-tight African dictators and despots - that their impunity would eventually catch up with them and that the world would no longer sit idly by and watch them murder and violate the rights of their people with impunity. The days of rigged elections are counted.

  • Comment number 11.

    Yes the line is that there joy on the street of Abijan with many dead bodies all over!!
    Bravo to the champions of Francafrique and vive la France ehh!!!!!

  • Comment number 12.

    Claude2, I suspect the joy -- or "widespread relief" as Andrew Harding puts it -- is more owed to the fact that the killings are likely coming to an end now rather than the sad fact that many people have died.

  • Comment number 13.

    Mr. Gbagbo arrested.

    Well there is nothing to laugh about. It is sad that once again Westerners have to show us African the road to well dignified life of self-sustaining path of respect; and self-governance; and foremost to respect the will of our people. How long are we going to continue accusing the West for our own mistakes and misdeeds? Are we not smart enough to understand the wind of democracies that have being blowing across the third world? Do we still have to undermine our own efforts, intelligence and determination to build a safe and proper continent? mother Africa? whereas everything we do and say in the face of the west is just never being considerate? ignored? and put into dust carving cabinet of history telling? Why should be continue to migrate toward the West whereas we do have all the possibilities and capabilities of good life and prosperity in our own backyard? Yes! our own backyard. Are we so dumbed and dumber to realize the true nature of a country of people, should be governed by a formula based on the people; and by the people? Why African Leaders behave with arrogance with impunity, no accountability to the people that elected them just to slaughter them should they open up their dirty and filty mouth to venture in a conversation with them(Leaders). Well, if love of a country could be heartless and blind, then certainly, power is obviously deaf to its indefinite exponent.
    Rewards can only come from within us and not from our colonial guards. Gbagbo is an example of lion in a goat skin, a despot, a tyran in a Democratic fur. It is shame for our Leaders in mother Africa.

  • Comment number 14.

    It's interesting to read yr wait and see approach. Could this be the beginning of a new dawn of a more responsible and compassionate leadership emerging within Africa? Will the next generation of African leaders provide Africans with a long awaited responsible and transparent leadership the continent so desperately needs! The world is not able to wait for Africa.

  • Comment number 15.

    Gbagbo arrested? who could be next?

    Western Countries have exausted all their resources to cover up the many irresponsibles tenures of African Leaders over the years. Well, they (West) also have profited at best. They grew tired of us over the years. In the end,there is no place like home. Everything that we Africans do in the western countries can be done at home. Meanwhile we are subject to modern slavery for better life, well sort of. The question is: why are we there with them in the first place? Are we so satisfied with the co-habitation abroad with them? No. Have we achieved our aimed and end-state goals? neither. African Leaders have forbidden their own countymen and citizens to venture coming home to promote change. Rather they brainwash the population to greater ignorance and blindness and deafness. They brainwash the population to hate each other through tribalism and ethnic divisions to promulgate their own taste of power. Well, before you say you love your country, have you asked yourself and make sure that you do love yourself first? because charity begins at home. It is unfortunate that Mr. Gbagbo hunked down with his lovely wife and perhaps his children to the final moment or hours of this ordeal just to sacrifice them also for his taste of power. May God forgive him and his advisers that pushed him into this mess. There is nothing to celebrate here, my fellow Africans. We should rather be concern and sad.

  • Comment number 16.

    I feel this WAS a western plot brough to you by the United Nations and France.
    Gbagbo won this elecrtion. The Supreme Court of the Ivory Coast upheld Gbagbo's win. So tell me how the western-trained, IMF-worker got to be the legitimate leader. The Quarrara war may be over, but the people, the people that voted, know the truth, and well think that much less of western so-called democracy. To them democracy will mean the "election of a western puppet".

  • Comment number 17.

    Hello Ivorians at this forum and beyond ,please learn to live in peace with each other you are all countrymen together. No one group is better than the other....there should not be a north and south divide. We are all god's children and we must remeber that.

  • Comment number 18.

    BluesBerry you are a funny guy or girl.

  • Comment number 19.

    reading in disbelief that many Ivoriens are still calling on France to hands off in Ivory coast, haven`t they shown that they can not manage their own affairs maturedly, without victimizing their fellow country men in the name of ivoirite,are they wiser than FHB ? please spare us the vapour from your mouth, we don`t want to breath it in again,it sours and has decayed,look around your neighbours,everybody is trying to come together as one, but you still want to subject your fellows to second class citizens in the name what ? Politics of Xenophobia has no place in the world today,some of your claims are that GOD chose you to rule Ivory Coast,have you asked yourself what is your true role in serving the people,since you claim that you are the only one chosen by GOD, get ready to answer for your stewardship to GOD,oh GOD have mercy, LOVE and not HATE;PEACE and not WAR;DIALOGUE and not militias; RECONCILIATIONS and not REVENGE, these are what we must embrace today,please Youths of Ivory Coast, your future is more important to you today, don`t allow them to brainwash you again,let support the government and secure our future by committing our strenght to what is credible,they had their days and blew it.we must never forget history or else we would make the same mistakes like them, LETS LIVE IN HARMONY WITH EVERYBODY AND ALLOW PEACE AND LOVE TO REIGN, Stay focused, tell your friends to give up any weapons and arms they still have,clean this mess and think free of violence, for violence kills the future,it kills good dreams,it kills lives,it kills NATIONS, say never to violence in our country,better days are ahead of us, we must reach out and claim them, God bless Ivory Coast, Long Live Ivory Coast,

  • Comment number 20.

    Did you know that there is a tunnel linking the Côte d'Ivoire presidential palace to the French Embassy in Abidjan?
    I guess for security reason, it is close on both sides. France has many ways to protect its interest, including military bases!!! I am sure the pro-Ouattara will try to deny this also.

  • Comment number 21.

    There have been some interesting comments on here, particularly from Africans wishing to see true democracy take a foothold on their continent. I hope for you it does occur because you have had all the instruments at your disposal to make it happen for decades. However I would also like to remind those who have been critising the UN and France for their role in ending this conflict that at the beginning of the year the ECOWAS and AU were stating to the world at large that they had a military force ready to intervene should Mr Gbagbo refuse to step down. What ever happened to this African Military intervention to stop what is basically an internal African problem. You could not solve it through dialog neither were you able to make the important decision when it was most needed.More determined action bt yourselves at an earlier stage would have prevented needless bloodshed. Learn to stand up for yourselves and stop blamimg "former colonial powers" for your inability to act when & where necessary.

  • Comment number 22.

    How can the Ivory Coast, like many other African countries experiencing manipulation, violence, and corruption, have peace/security when the voters themselves know that Gbagbo won this election, know the Supreme Court of the Ivory Coast ruled on this matter. Western-style elections are a farce. The west will set in place the particular puppet that it wants.
    So, the western-trained, IMF-product has been injected into the Ivory Coast's Presidency like a foreign germ.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 25.

    GBAGBO is most of Ivorian the president of ivory coast, even if France has put in place the one they want to have ivory coast for them. France was there in 2002 when the rebels attack Abidjan, why at that time they did not arrest the rebels who kill many persons. what think France, Ouatara and the rebels are one. if we want peace in ivory coast France soldiers have to leave ivory coast. France have to know Ouatara they want to be president to serve them cant be President forever.

  • Comment number 26.

    most of African problems and military coup is from France, we African know that France is poor country in Europe. they only depend on the investment made in Africa.
    if a president did not favor them,automatically the president become enemy for them.
    we African and specially Ivorian have to stand against France forces in Africa.

  • Comment number 27.

    Hello BBC i believed latest news in cote de ivorie again so right you are looking around to see african.

  • Comment number 28.

    i only pray my country Ghana does not get manipulated by the UN and former colonial powers like the UN and France have done in ivory coast. May God be with Gbagbo and his family, you fought well but a house divided against itself will never prosper. ivorians are divided and now france will have a free yearly supply of cocoa at the expense of ivorian hard labor. Obama you are a disgrace and i feel ashamed that we welcomed you into our peaceful ghana soil. you supported the removal Gbagfbo and the neocolonization of ivory coast through the puppets the UN and alhassan quattera. shame on you!. may peace prevail in ivory coast.

  • Comment number 29.

    I'm taking a week off on the far side of the continent. Best wishes.


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