Ivory Coast: Bloody Payback Time


 April 13, 2011: While president Laurent Gbagbo has surrendered, many of his armed followers have not. And they have good reason to keep on fighting. As is usually the case when tribes are involved, the northerners and southerners always used ethnic affiliation to sort out "us" and "them". But like in all African countries, there has been migration, with people moving out of their traditional tribal areas over the decades. That can get you killed when the tribes take sides and fight for control of the country. Now Gbagbo's coalition of southern, Christian tribes is on the defensive as the northern, Moslem (and often immigrant) tribes move south to assert their power. The southern diehards set off bombs and snipe at the invaders. The northerners respond by shooting anyone suspected of being hostile. That can mean just a name and accent that indicates a southern tribe too closely allied with Gbagbo,  and a (real or imagined)  unfriendly look. The attitude is that it's better to kill the guy, before he gets you with a bomb or bullet in the back. This sort of friction has already caused thousands of civilian deaths as the northern Republican Forces moved south. The hostility, and violence, between northerners and southerners will continue for a while. Some southern leaders will try to establish themselves as warlords, although most are expected to get out of Ivory Coast with their lives, families and money. Many have already moved their families, and some other assets, to neighboring, or Western, nations. Some southern leaders brought in mercenary fighters from Liberia, and other African nations. These men are probably fleeing, but will often fight if cornered. The Republican Forces are apt to just kill any foreign mercenaries (real or suspected) they encounter. As the Republican Forces moved south, they were reminded daily that 46 percent of the people voted for Gbagbo during last year's elections.

April 12, 2011: France announced that its peacekeeping force will be cut from 1,700 to a few hundred troops. A specific date was not mentioned. Five army generals, that had long supported Gbagbo, openly pledged their allegiance to the elected president Alassane Ouattarr. The generals ordered their troops to stop fighting, and the throughout the south, the order was generally obeyed. But there are still over a million refugees, who fled from the Republican Forces as the northerners moved south over the last few weeks. Thousands of the refugees have weapons.

April 11, 2011: French troops, using armored vehicles and armed helicopters, forced Laurent Gbagbo to leave his bunker and surrender. Some kind of deal may have been made, and Gbagbo was placed under house arrest.

April 10, 2011: Pro-Gbagbo troops, dug in around Gbagbo's bunker in Abidjan, continue to fire at areas where UN peacekeepers are stationed. Even the hotel that has served as Alassane Ouattarr's headquarters has come under fire. French and UN armed helicopters have been shooting back.

April 8, 2011:  In Abidjan, pro-Gbagbo forces attacked, and pushed Republican Forces gunmen back from some neighborhoods. But this advance did not last, and the gains were lost over the next 48 hours. This advance by Gbagbo forces included firing on the French embassy. That was decisive in persuading France and the UN to take a more active role in fighting pro-Gbagbo fighters.

April 7, 2011: The UN deployed peacekeepers around Gbagbo's residence and bunker complex in Abidjan. The UN is trying to persuade Gbagbo to stop fighting. To help that along, peacekeepers have been seizing or destroying heavy weapons and vehicles belonging to Gbagbo loyalists.

April 6, 2011: Gbagbo and several hundred of his most reliable troops have retreated to a bunker complex (in his official residence) in Abidjan, while other Gabgbo loyalists fight Republican Forces gunmen throughout Abidjan, and southern Ivory Coast. Republican Forces fighters were forced back when they got to within 200 meters of the Gbagbo residence/headquarters/bunker.


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