BBC BLOGS - Andrew Harding on Africa
« Previous | Main | Next »

Ouattara troops prepare for final push

Andrew Harding | 17:46 UK time, Monday, 4 April 2011

I've just driven down an eerily empty highway to the outskirts of Abidjan.

I am now surrounded now by about 300 soldiers preparing for battle.

These are forces loyal to Alassane Ouattara.

They are all in combat gear with automatic rifles, RPGs and heavy machine guns mounted on the backs of pick-up trucks.

One pick-up, packed with men, has just raced off towards the front lines a few kilometres down the road.

There are about 50 soldiers resting in the shade, including some wounded, who have just come back from the battle for Abidjan.

One soldier described the fighting as "chaud (hot)".

A lot of troops have just left for what senior military commanders here are telling me is the final push for the city.

A general emerged from a meeting at a makeshift headquarters at a half-built toll station and told me confidently that the city would be in his control in "a matter of hours".

Mr Ouattara's forces have of course been saying this for some days but there is no doubt that this is a new and substantial offensive.


  • Comment number 1.

    My relatives are watching the aerial bombardment from a high-rise building with a panorama of the city as I write.

    They say that the French Helicopters are bombing the miltary compound in support of the rebel forces.

    How is it that France can now openly use its miltary force to attack the Ivory Coast and to support the Rebel force in its military objectives?

    They also say that the ONUCI forces are also bombing the President's House in support of the rebel forces.

    Is it a coincidence that this attack comes the day before France officially hands control of the UNOCI force over to the Russians?

    May the World be forgiven for the horrors that it allows today and the horrors that will come tomorrow.

    May the Russians arrive in time to restore some sanity to this french maddness.

    Peter Charles

  • Comment number 2.

    Now finally the truth is emerging. The French Foreign Legion is bombing the forces loyal to the country and the criminial forces of Alassane Ouattara are committing yet another massacre at Duekoue, this time of 800 people.

    The situation in the Ivory Coast resembles that of Chile quite much. The difference is, that here a democratically elected has been removed, not by the CIA, but by French intelligence, and in a much more elegant fashion - the "Pinochet" of Cote d'Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, was duely "elected" by the Ivorian people, the people he is now ready to murder in numbers unseen since Rwanda in order to actually gain control of them, his claimed voters. Shame on UN. Shame on France. Shame on the entire Western community. I stand against my nation and the EU. I denounce them.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think this is terrific news!

    In November we had a problem with Gabago and now we're finally dealing with it. ideally, i'm sure the Ouattara camp was hoping that they would regain control of their country sooner with help from ECOWAS or the african union, but that assistance never materialized. Gabago is a dictator, and there is only one way to deal with dictators, i'm sure you all know that.

    in regards to the civilian deaths, they're collateral damage, it happens whenever a military operation occurs. It's unfortunate that so many deaths have been incurred, but you must also remember that is not another Rwanda.

    i stand with Ouattara, and pray that democracy finally comes to the Ivory Coast

  • Comment number 4.

    'the "Pinochet" of Cote d'Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara, was duely "elected" by the Ivorian people' - clement bane

    Well yes, that is rather the point: unlike Pinochet, Ouattara was elected, but the loser in the election, Gbagbo, refused to hand over the Presidency. Of course, the actions of Ouattara and his troops must be scrutinised, and in particular the massacre in Duekoue investigated, but he is the legitimate, elected President - unless and until convincing evidence that the election result was fraudulent is produced.

  • Comment number 5.

    I am receiving reports from Abidjan that the civilian population is now fighting hand-to-hand alongside the Ivorian Military against the rebel forces. Mothers and Daughters are outside attacking the rebel gunman with their bare hands.

    The decision is simple. Remain at home and be slaughtered or go out and fight in any way that one can.


    There is no such thing as civilian collateral damage. Ouattara will face the International Court for crimes against humanity for this massacre. The evidence of the Red Cross cannot be denied.


    Under Ivorian Law, Gbagbo was re-instated as President. The Law of the Ivory Coast is the only Law that applies to this Sovereign Country. Ouattara is illegal and has no rights under Ivorian Law.

    The situation is simple. This is an invasion of malcontents from the northern tribes of Mali and Boukina Fasso, led by Ouattara and supported by France for economic reasons.

    Peter Charles

  • Comment number 6.

    Peter Charles, people like you are the cause of all the problems of Ivory Coast. People like you think and erroneous believe all other Ivorians are foreigners and rebels except Gbagbo and people of your like. Anyway your propaganda has failed and the whole world have come to realize your true colors. The UN did not force your collected mercenaries to desert you but they saw reason with the rest of the world. Until you cone out of your delutions and accept all Ivorians as Ivorians, then you shall know no peace. Paul Kigame and his army were in the bush before they stepped in to stop the genocide of Rwandans. Outtara had to do same. Remember Charles, Northerners are also Ivorians.

  • Comment number 7.

    Gbagbo has brought on to the people of Ivory Coast an unimaginable hardship. How can one man and few of his cronies refuse to heed the discerning voices of the whole world and decide to sink with the youth of his country and the whole country? For Gbagbo supporters who are calling for the international community to now step in, where were they when the same community begged Gbagbo to relinquish power? Is this not what the international community anticipated and called for Gbagbo to go peacefully? Gbagbo and his supporters believed the strength of their mercenaries but woe and behold they have been dangerously disappointed.

    For several years under Gbagbo, the people of Northern Ivory Coast had to endure humiliations, rape, mass murder and summary executions in the hands of pro Gbagbo marauding supporters. Outtara had to act because he does not discriminate. For peace to come back as we know it when Outtara was the PM, Gbagbo must go now!

  • Comment number 8.

    please all born ivorians are ivorians let go this nasty talk of tribes and regions Gbagbo is a looser he should go to hell with this colonial, neo colonial or precolonial talk.To hell with this north /south divide to hell with this tribal divide let Gbagbo go is game over amd if the UN and France can facilitate his going in any way let them do it,If tomorrow quatara does the same he shall face the same fate.The name is national interest first before petit worthless,useless and aimless self interest.Ivory coast is greater than us hell

  • Comment number 9.

    This is robust debate about the happenings in Ivory Coast. Looking at the conversation I can see its a diatribe between the 'north' and the south'.

    I am a Nigerian living in the states and I am strongly worried that the Ivory Coast experience is just a warm up for the dangerous eruption that might soon occur in Nigeria, because it will be a case also of the incumbent losing power and not wanting to step down. Ivory Coast would be child's play. Where will 140 millions run to to. just 5 million of them will overrun the whole of West Africa!

  • Comment number 10.

    I fully agree with Peter Charles. According to the Ivorian constitution, Gbagbo is the lawful president of the country. There is no basis in international law for setting aside the decision of the Constitutional Council.

    To all of you ardent supporters of Ouattara:

    Alas, your notion that Ouattara won the elelction is nothing but wishful thinking. He has the backing of maximum 35% of the population. I have a lot of sympathy for you; you feel disenfranchised and to some extent you are justified in that. However, it does not justify the treacherous collusion between Ouattara and France. And as for who is a dictator and who is a democrat:

    Laurent Gbagbo is the only president of Cote d'Ivoire, who has ever been democratically elected. He suffered during the dictatorship of Hophouet-Boigny, where he was incarcerated and exiled. He is a socialist, and I do NOT share his political views. However, I believe in justice before anything else.

    Alassane Ouattara was the prime minister in the last years of Hophouet-Boigny's dictatorship from 1990-93, and during the last 18 months, when Hophouet-Boigny was deadly sick, he was functioning president and the de facto ruler of the Cote d'Ivoire. I BEG OF YOU TO READ AMNESTY'S REPORTS FROM THOSE YEARS AND THEN MAYBE YOU WILL BEGIN TO REALIZE, WHAT SORT OF PERSON ALASSANE OUATTARA IS.

  • Comment number 11.

    As for a decent solution to the confrontation, the idea previously put forward on this site of a two-state solution is the only viable in my view. The Ouattara - side has no more right to tyrannise the old Ivorian people, who will NEVER submit to his rule, than vice versa. It has been proven beyond a doubt that you guys are absolutely incapable of reaching a consensus, so please try to at least respect each other's right to self-determination.

  • Comment number 12.

    Let me add, that in the interest of his people and for humanitarian reasons, I do think that Gbagbo should have stepped down. However, I find it hard to dismiss his stand, since there can never be peace without justice, and justice is not what France and the UN has put on the table.

  • Comment number 13.

    Thank you Clement Bane.

    To the BBC, Please ask Andrew and the Baroness to go to Yopougon. Last night the civilian population stood defenceless in front of the French Army. My Niece identified the soldiers as French. These soldiers shot into the civilian crowd. I have not heard further but I suspect that my Niece may now be dead.

    The French did not only bomb a military barracks last night, a place where the Ivorian Soldiers lived with their Families. The French also bombed the University Campus called "Cite Mermoz". There was nothing military about the University Campus.

    Peter Charles

  • Comment number 14.

    Thank YOU, Peter.

    It is just like during the rebellion. There, the French troops also fired into the crowds at Yopougon, totally unprovoked.

    MY family has long fled - not the INSANE dictator Gbagbo, but the cutthroat Ouattara and the French army - like most of the other 1.000.000 refugees.

    Why has Ouattara closed the borders? So he can better kill them? Why is the UN not protesting and demanding an immediate opening of the borders? Personally, I will hold Ban Ki-Moon responsible for any further massacre by the New Criminal Forces.

    Peter, if you like, you can write me directly on [Personal details removed by Moderator]

    We must keep tract of this.

  • Comment number 15.


    "Alas, your notion that Ouattara won the elelction is nothing but wishful thinking. He has the backing of maximum 35% of the population."

    Ouattara had 32% in the first round, so that's the support you could say he has straight away. However, he was in coalition with Bedie who had 25% in the first round. His spokesman Mabri got about 2.7%. Both (as well as others) asked their voters to side with Ouattara.

    Gbagbo had 38% in the first round and no real coalition partner of any sizeable weight to help him in the second round. Those few that asked their voters to side with him had in sum less than 2%, bringing him up to perhaps 40%.

    There are very valid concerns about Ouattara's leadership as most recently evidenced by the mass killings in Duekoue.

    There's not much of a question as to whether he was elected or not.

  • Comment number 16.


    I do not agree with you. There is very compelleing evidence of fraud. Firstly, a part of my family actually voted for Bedie. NONE of them voted for Ouattara. They would rather vote for Adolf Hitler.

    Second, it is a matter of record, that the initial announcement from the "independent" electoral commission ascertained, that the participation in the second round was ca. 70%. That figure has been reported by newsmedia and -agencies, AFP, etc.

    3 days later the participation had rissen to 83% and 675.000 votes were added withot any explanation. Now, do you think that is what normally happens in a free and fair election? As Peter correctly states, the only law that applies here id the Ivorian, and according to the Constitution, the constitutional Council has the final say. Ergo: Ouattara is illegal. The fact that Gbagbo had given the final say to the UN has no bearing. Any lawyer will tell you, that that does not oblige him in case of fraud.

  • Comment number 17.


    note that I haven't claimed that all the 25% of Bedie voters did vote for Ouattara in the second round. He would have had well above 54% if they had. What I'm saying is that Ouattara and Bedie are in coalition and have been asked by Bedie to vote Ouattara and that makes them likely to do so.

    We have discussed the 70% previously on this blog. I don't have anything to add to that: The 70% were announced before they had counted the PVs, even before they were all delivered I'm told. The 81% (not 83.73%, that was the first round) were the actual numbers as determined from the PVs. Copies of these PVs had been sent to pretty much everyone involved (both candidates, CC, CEI, UN) straight from the source, signed by both sides. There's precious little opportunity to fiddle the numbers then.

    You must know by now that Article 64 of the electoral code (which is Ivorian law) states that if there was fraud, the CC has got to call new elections, there's no option of annulling regions at will.

  • Comment number 18.

    Oh mr Gbagbo please think about the well been of the Ivorien people,and step down.The people of ivory coast will hold you responsible for the innocense lives. Moses Gweh


BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.