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Ivory Coast Rebels Advance South, Closing in on Abidjan and Key Cocoa Port

March 30, 2011 1 comment

bloomberg

Troops loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of November’s presidential election in Ivory Coast, moved closer to Abidjan and a key cocoa-exporting port, adding to pressure on embattled incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo.

The Republican Forces seized at least five towns this week and moved to within 240 kilometers (149 miles) of Abidjan, the commercial capital, after taking the eastern town of Abengourou yesterday, said Meite Sindou, spokesman for Ouattara’s prime minister and defense minister, Guillaume Soro.

“It seems the security forces of Laurent Gbagbo refused to fight when the rebels entered the town,” said Modeste Kouao, a resident of Abengourou.

Until now, the loyalty of the army and police has proved key to Gbagbo’s ability to retain control of much of the world’s top cocoa producer. He refuses to hand power to Ouattara, alleging electoral fraud in the election on Nov. 28.

“Militarily, Gbagbo is weak,” said Rinaldo Depagne, a Dakar-based analyst for International Crisis Group. “If he wants to stay, he’s got to put all the forces he has in Abidjan and he’s got to try to stop the progression of rebels inside Abidjan. Inside the army you’ve got mass Read more…