French-Backed Rebel Forces Capture Ivorian Strongman Laurent Gbagbo
Following overnight rocket attacks from United Nations and French helicopters and an advance by a French armored column on his Abidjan residence, Ivorian strongman Laurent Gbagbo has surrendered to forces loyal to Alassane Outtara, the country’s rightful president.
“The United Nations mission in Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) has confirmed that former President Laurent Gbagbo has surrendered to the forces of Alassane Outtara and is currently in their custody,” UN spokesman Farhan Haq announced earlier today. Haq added that the UN mission, called UNOCI, was “providing protection and security in accordance with its mandate.”
According to al-Jazeera, Gbagbo adviser Toussaint Alain said his boss was “arrested by French special forces in his residence” and “handed over to the rebel leaders.”
Gbagbo’s capture was confirmed by Jean Marc Simon, the French ambassador to Ivory Coast.
Al-Jazeera reports Gbagbo is being held at the Golf Hotel along with his wife and several top advisers. Ivorian ambassador to the UN Youssoufou Bamba said he is “alive and well” and would be “brought to justice for the crimes he has committed.”
The helicopter assault on Gbagbo’s fortified residence was part of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s plan to use “all necessary means” to neutralize Gbagbo’s heavy weapons. “The continued use of heavy weapons against the civilian population and our peacekeepers, as well as the attack against the headquarters of the legitimate government, have compelled me, once again, to instruct UNOCI to use all necessary means to prevent the use of these weapons, pursuant to Security Council resolutions 1975 and 1962,” he said in a statement.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke with Outtara shortly after Gbagbo’s arrest. The eyes of the world are now watching how the new Ivorian president deals with his bitter foe. According to al-Jazeera, Ivorian television showed Gbagbo being brought into the Golf Hotel and receiving medical attention.
There is no word on how or when Gbagbo will be “brought to justice for the crimes he has committed.”
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