BBC BLOGS - Andrew Harding on Africa
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Battling militias in Abidjan

Andrew Harding | 12:38 UK time, Thursday, 7 April 2011

It's a little quieter here in Abidjan right now, there's certainly a lull around the residence of Ivory Coast's disputed President Laurent Gbagbo, which is still under siege.

We expect a fresh attack on the compound at any moment though.

I am in the west of the city. There are lots of soldiers supporting Alassane Ouattara around me racing off in pick-up trucks. They say they are constantly having to battle militias loyal to Mr Gbagbo.

I've just spoken to a civilian who says 10 people were killed on his street last night by those militias.

The soldiers are sweeping through neighbourhoods rounding up young men they suspect may be involved.

There are in fact 200 of them here, they're being kept inside a carwash at a garage by the roadside. They're sitting on the floor looking very nervous.

The soldiers have also just brought in a woman. They claim she is a Liberian mercenary. She told me she's a Nigerian civilian. She looks very scared indeed.


  • Comment number 1.

    To bring immediate peace and order in Ivory Coast all these young marauding Gbabgo supporters would have to be arrested and kept in safe custody. Outtara supporters would have to be restrained from retaliations and revenge attacks.
    For me the attack and criticism of the UN and France especially is unfounded and out of place. Are the critics saying the Outtara forces should have been allowed to unleash their lethal fire power on the people of Abidjan? Or the two opposing forces should have been allowed to engage on a long attritious war? Who would have been the greatest looser? Only the civilian population will suffer!

    The intransigence stand of Gbagbo if not curtailed soon will prolong the suffering of the people of Ivory Coast.

  • Comment number 2.

    French troops should immediately stop fighting Gbagbo compound using civilians protection as an excuse to help the Ouattara's rebels. The UN and the french forces should immediately withdraw from Ivory Coast. Instead of enforcing a cease fire, they are helping Ouattara's rebels.

  • Comment number 3.

    Both comments on this page are misguided. Laurent Gbagbo has provoked this from the day he decided to name himself president and ignore the will of the Ivorian people. Maybe you voted for him BUT this does not mean everyone did. He then allowed Ble Goude whip up false nationalistic sentiment among some Ivorians and proceeded to commit genocide against Odienneke (Diulla) but we all know here that it is not just the Manding who have been targeted but Baoule and others who have been protesting peacefully against this criminal act. He then commandeered RTI to create a campaign of propaganda and outright lies to further his goal.

    I ask what has Gbagbo done for you lately?

  • Comment number 4.

    the whole world have seen what the Gbagboist are doing doing to ivory coast,what would the late president Houphuoet Buonyi will say of his country, Houphuoetist where are you and why did you keep silence,this is not an ADO fight,its a fight for freedom to live and to express ones right in a free country of Democracy, we have witnessed a systematic dismantling of the legacy of democracy in Ivory coast since Gbagbo came to power, Gbagbo did not win the election of the year 2000,but Gen Guei giveway for peace to reign, why can`t he giveway for peace to reign despite him Gbagbo lost this election,who loves Ivory coast most, history will judge, Ivorians all over the world,lets not be fooled,call for PEACE and UNITY,because if we support this FIRE Gbagboists has kindled in Ivory coast it will consume us all and no water can quench it,why destroy what has been built over the years ? people are killed and many will die,let Gbagbo come of his bunker in the open and fight his legacy, why he calling on the ignorants to go and die for him while he and his family are safely hiding and some are not even in Ivory coast,I praised these soldiers that have called for peace and laid down their arms,please lend deaf ears to call for more killing and vengeance,it will bring more destructions,heed the call peace,unity and reconciliation,this the time rebuild,never allow the few people to divide us,the evil spirits of destruction of what is good, no good at all, lets stop this madness and support PEACE and Harmony,let us live together as one people,one nation, everyone should contribute his or her quota to bring peace to Ivory coast, FORGIVENESS we must project, now or never, we should call our friends and neighbours to assist us in achieving true PEACE and RECONCILIATION, let support our brothers in the any new government bring a lasting Peace and Prosperity back to Ivory coast, with what has been happening, we know better I suppose, do not allow yourselves to be fooled by selfish elements in our society, GIVE PEACE A CHANCE, because with PEACE we shall overcome, May ALMIGHTY LORD GOD BLESS PROTECT LA COTE D`IVOIRE !!!!!!!

  • Comment number 5.

    France and ineffectual UN have ganged up to invade a sovereing nation and are in cohut with the rebels. How can any sensible person belief that these rebels that commited atrocities as they advanced to Abidjan could have allowed "free and fair" elections in the ares under their control. If you believe that then I have some property in Pluto that I want to sell to you.

  • Comment number 6.

    The Latest is Mr Ouattara has spoken and has said as from tomorrow there will be some sort of normality - the banks will re-open and shops although it will take some time to get back to normality but tomorrow they will start. Mr Ouatarra also said that people will get back pay for the last 2 months.

  • Comment number 7.

    Civilians are dying in Abidjan and the UN say they are in Ivory Coat to look after the civilians! I mean, really? People should stop taking us for some ignorant persons as this is not the first time France armed rebellions against African Governments and I really doubt this will be the last time if the press is cool with that and our African brothers as-well. But one thing is sure even if they kill the dreamer, they will never ever kill the dream.

  • Comment number 8.

    The UN and France are criminally responsible for the bloodshed and massacres in the Ivory Coast. Where is all the talk of war crimes here as there was in Libya ?. By taking sides in a civil war, even instigating it, the UN has sown the seeds of its own destruction. Never again will those blue helmets be a sign of reassurance and impartiality.

  • Comment number 9.

    # 6, IvorianKat wrote:
    The Latest is Mr Ouattara has spoken and has said as from tomorrow there will be some sort of normality - the banks will re-open and shops although it will take some time to get back to normality but tomorrow they will start. Mr Ouatarra also said that people will get back pay for the last 2 months.
    Ouattara can issue whatever edicts he like but from the looks of it he does not have to power to enforce any of it. Abijan looks solidly Gbagbo territory and will probably never be conquered by Ouattara and the foreign forces helping him. Instead of uniting the Ivory Coast, the UN has succeeded only in dividing it. And in a very bloody way at that. This division in Ivory Coast seems to be a division that will run right through the whole of West Africa, and even beyond. Well done UN !

  • Comment number 10.

    I pray for all the Ivorians caught in the middle of this power dance. When I look at the faces of these men, I see fear. I dont know if any of us can prove that these men are truly militia - and even worse, none of us knows what will happen to them. Ivory Coast has a long road ahead - Gbagbo's survival is questionable given the overwhelming attaks directed at him, but Outtara has numerous challenges - first he has to control the bands of rebels fighting for him - or the peace and order they are claiming to bring wont last. Lets not forget that his appointed Prime Minister, Soro, is a long time rebel leader too with a record that should call for concern. There is no black and white picture here - it is shades of grey with roots that go deeper than the 2010 election.

  • Comment number 11.

    Now it will come to light whether Ouattara can and will curtail all the criminal riffraff he has amassed from near and far from committing a genocide to mach that of Rwanda, the French army of course standing by for lack of mandate.

    Will you be there to report it, mr. Harding???

  • Comment number 12.

    Gbagbo....Ivory Coast.....Another case of a people loosing a war of survival and control of state resources to the rival ethnic group with the active support of the western world who do not really understand the real nature/remote causes of the conflict. The ignorance shown by the west in their understanding of political problems in africa is disturbing.
    There also are some africans who are removed from 'reality', having lived too long in europe or by being scions of the privilegded political or business class intheir countries. These people would never understand why Gbagbo is holding on to power (with total support from his 'people')
    I pity the unarmed and innocent civilians on both sides because no matter what the press would have us believe, both sides must be actively eliminating members of rival ethnic groups.
    Ethnicity is the cause of all political problems in Africa, from Zimbabwe to Rwanda, Congo,Nigeria etc

  • Comment number 13.

    The calamity of Africa is the double-speak of its people and their proclivity to love dictators. A people can only have the leadership they deserve. And so, when Africans, including the elite and intelligensia, support leaders like Gbagbo, who because of his personal aggrandisement and thirst for power, has brought about the deaths of thousands in the Ivory Coast, one begins to see reason in the reluctance of the civilised world to grant Africa a permanent seat at the UN. Those who today support Gbagbo seem to have very short memories. Gbagbo uses the nationalist angle as a smokescreen to win the unenlightened African minds. He pretends to be against the French, yet it was the French to whom he turned when the new forces troops were marching on Abidjan in 2002. But for the French, Gbagbo should have long been history. Today, all Gbagbo's lawyers and image builders (PRO outfits) out of Ivory Coast are French so which France is Gbagbo against and what nationalism is he talking about? His place is in the bunker where he is today - like his arche-type Hitler before him.


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