Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ivory Coast Strongman Laurent Gbagbo Arrested

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He defied international calls to cede power during a bloody four-month standoff. But now Ivory Coast Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo has been captured.

The rebel opposition -- with support from French and UN forces -- launched an assault on the embattled leader’s residence in Abijan. (VIDEO FROM BFM TV)

CNN’s Zain Vergee reports - 500 people have been killed and one million internally displaced since Gbagbo refused to relinquish power four months ago.

“Lauren Gbagbo was holding the country hostage. He had refused to leave and admit he lost an election back in November. So what happened is the country has deteriorated into civil war. ... It means that Gbagbo, if arrested, will probably be tried in Ivory Coast. There was a lot of discussion as to whether he would go into exile...”

The BBC’s Mark Doyle looks at what Gbagbo’s arrest means for Ivory Coast - and says - it’s hard to predict whether it will stabilize the war-torn country.

“...perhaps the model to be followed will be here in neighbouring Liberia - where a decade of violent ethnic balkanisation is only now beginning to be resolved. The coming days and months are likely to be perilous for civilians as possible reprisal attacks take place.”

The internationally-recognized President - Alissane Ouattara - is widely expected to face some opposition - as Gbagbo accused him of being a foreigner - an attack that has proven powerful in the south.

That’s why France 24’s Nathan King reports from UN headquarters - the UN isn’t ready to call this a victory yet.

“It may be the end of the beginning but no the beginning of the end. ... There is still a crisis going on in Ivory Coast. they are going to be focusing on basically making sure the violence subsides. There may be pockets of resistance, but they want to continue to take away heavy weapons. ... Huge amounts of ethnic tension, and of course there have been atrocities as well. Those have to be investigated.”

Britain’s Foreign Minister emphasized Gbagbo should be treated with “respect” despite allegations of war crimes against civilians. And the scrutiny is expected to be leveled at pro-Ouattara forces as well - who stand accused of raping and killing civilians.

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