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Despite attacks, Gbagbo's residence remains impregnable

04-09-2011 12:54 BJT

ABIDJAN, April 8 (Xinhua) -- Despite the "final assault" launched on Wednesday by Cote d'Ivoire Republican Forces (FRCI, pro-Ouattara) at the residence of the country's embattled President Laurent Gbagbo, many people are still baffled by the resistance the latter has put up.

French soldiers patrol on a street in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, April 7, 2011.
Cote d'Ivoire's internationally recognized President Alassane Ouattara on
Thursday announced the blockade of his presidential rival Laurent Gbagbo's
residence in the West African country's biggest city Abidjan, vowing to
restore order and security. (Xinhua/He Peng)

Ouattara's defense spokesman, Leon Alla Kouakou, had indicated that the operation was meant to dislodge Gbagbo from the bunker where he had been hiding for some days after the failure to convince him to surrender.

Two days earlier, the UN forces and the French Licorne forces had struck at his military camps to destroy the heavy weapons in order to protect civilians.

The chief of general staff of the Defense and Security Forces (FDS, pro-Gbagbo), General Philippe Mangou and Gbagbo's foreign minister Alcide Djedje, had asked for a cease-fire, saying that their arsenals had been destroyed and they were no longer willing to fight.

However, despite this weakness and despite the defections of most of his close confidants, Gbagbo has continued to resist and he remains holed up in the bunker within his residence.

For some observers, the bunker at Gbagbo's residence is impregnable since three days later, he has not been dislodged.


Capturing embattled president has become a tall order for his rival, demonstrating that he had a great capacity for resistance.

"The FRCI promised to capture him alive, thinking that it was going to be easy and they even claimed that they would take control of his home in a matter of hours," a resident of Yopougon district (pro-Gbagbo) Leon Kore remarked.

In his opinion, "Gbagbo is very cunning and he must have made arrangements to resist for a longer period of time."

"Gbagbo is being protected by an elite squad. These special forces are well equipped and have the means to put up a resistance for almost three months. A soldier told me when we had gone to enrol in the army," added Paul Alomo, a member of the "Youth Patriots" (pro-Gbagbo).

While speaking on Thursday to a local radio station, the FRCI military spokesman, Seydou Ouattara, claimed that Gbagbo had ordered for more weapons which were coming through the sea and he was waiting for the arrival of these weapons to launch another war which he hopes to win.

Seydou thinks that this is why Gbagbo called for a cease-fire so that he could get enough time to re-arm his soldiers.

An employee of a pan-African NGO, Clement Oura, thinks that Gbagbo would not have resisted for too long if he was not being assisted by mercenaries. KNOWLEDGE OF THE GROUND IN ABIDJAN

Majority of the pro-Ouattara soldiers come from the northern parts of the country where they have lived all their lives and seem not to have known the Abidjan terrain while Gbagbo's forces seem to know the course very well and this has helped them to properly secure the embattled president's residence.

"The knowledge of the terrain is fundamental in war. Troops who know the ground can fight very well whether at night or during day time," a retired soldier told Xinhua.

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