Ivory Coast – Laurent Gbagbo has said he’s not leaving his post as president of Ivory Coast, despite international pressure.
“I won the election and I’m not negotiating my departure,” he told French tv station LCI.
“I find it absolutely incredible that the entire world is playing this … game of poker”, Gbagbo said from his barricaded presidential compound.
He did, however, say that he is discussing the possibility of a ceasefire with the ground forces but that a decision on a “political level” not yet had been made.
Violent protests began when Gbago’s political rival Alassane Outtara was recognised as the winner of the election on November 28 last year, and Gbagbo refused to step down.
The violence in the country has cost at least 1,500 lives and displaced one million people since the political uproar began.
But now, the military strikes on Gbagbo’s presidential palace in the capital Abidjan by the opposition troops as well as UN and the French army, have forced Gbagbo to the negotiation table.
“For peace to return to Ivory Coast, I and Ouattara, the two of us have to talk.”
Gbagbo also aired his disapproval of the French army getting involved in the conflict in the former French colony saying:
“I don’t understand how an electoral dispute in Ivory Coast has brought about the direct intervention of the French army”.
The chief of staff of the French armed forces, Admiral Édouard Guillaud, said it was likely that Gbagbo would surrender within hours.
“He has no other choice,” Guillaud said on Wednesday.
“The negotiations began yesterday and continued through the night. Unfortunately, I do not see an outcome at the moment. Despite that, I think it is only a matter of hours”.
So what would happen to Gbagbo if he were to leave office and step down?
The opposition demands that he should be prosecuted for his armed actions following the disputed elections, whether it were to take place in Ivory Coast or abroad.
Apollinaire Yapi, a spokesman for Mr. Ouattara said: “He must be prosecuted. Do we keep him here, do we send him abroad, I don’t know,” he continued, adding:
“He must answer for his actions.”
Obama once again reconfirmed his position, saying:
“To end this violence and prevent more bloodshed, former President Gbagbo must stand down immediately and direct those who are fighting on his behalf to lay down their arms”.