With the forces of former President Laurent GbagboLaurent Gbagbo fighting to keep him in power in a bloody struggle in Ivory Coast’s biggest city, the French army has taken over the international airport.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he was concerned about the safety of French nationals and asked all of them to be prepared to evacuate.
About 1,650 expatriates have already been evacuated to an army camp of the country’s former colonial ruler. Overnight 300 more French soldiers arrived, bringing the total to 1,400, Le Monde reported Sunday. There are an estimated 12,000 French nationals in Ivory Coast, said France 24.
Gbagbo lost an election that was delayed for years, but has refused to allow Alassane Ouattara to succeed him. The Ivorian election commission declared Ouattara the winner of a runoff election Nov. 28.
Gbago won an election in 2000 whose credibility was questioned. He stayed in power through a civil war, and had delayed elections after the war ended.
The International Committee of the Red Cross estimated that at least 800 people, mostly civilians, died in fighting in the city of Duékoué.
The United Nations, which has a peacekeeping force in the West African country, had condemned Ggabo’s force for much of the recent violence., but on Sunday it called on Ouattara to look into whehter his supporters were involved. Some of the deaths were blamed on “dozos,” traditional fighters who support Ouattara. U.S. Secretary of State has joined the U.N. in calling for Gbagbo to resign immediately.
Instead, he apparently is remaining in his heavily fortified presidential palace.
Reporters Without Borders said Ivorian television and radio has resumed broadcasting, apparently from a mobile truck parked at a villa. Agencies