Gbagbo's compound cordoned off

Cote d'Ivoire's entrenched leader remains defiant even after airstrikes hammered his military bases and residence.

    Ouattara assured families of those who have died that the ''creators of those crimes will be punished'' [EPA]

    Cote d’Ivoire’s internationally recognised president Alassane Ouattara has ordered a blockade around Laurent Gbagbo's presidential residence where he remains holed up.

    Ouattara went on television on Thursday night announcing the blockade and calling on his troops to restore order in Abidjan, where roaming militia have been engaged in looting and random attacks in recent days.

    "A blockade has been set up around (the) perimeter" of Gbagbo's residence to make the district safe for local residents, said Ouattara, claiming Gbagbo had "heavy weapons and mercenaries" at hand.

    Ouattara also promised that "light will be shed on all the massacres and the crimes," which might have been committed.

    "The authors of the crimes will be punished," he said, calling on his troops "to be exemplary in their behaviour and to abstain from any crime, any violence against the population or any act of pillage."

    'Priority decisions'

    Ouattara also said he had asked for EU sanctions on the main ports and other businesses to be lifted as a first step to bring the country back to normal.

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    "I have asked that European Union sanctions on the ports of Abidjan and San Pedro and certain public entities, be lifted," Ouattara said.

    "I have also asked the central bank BCEAO to reopen its branches in Ivory Coast, to ensure a resumption of operations in all banks so as to enable the payment of salaries and arrears in the shortest possible time," Ouattara said.

    Ouattara said these immediate priority decisions were taken to provide security to the population and ensure the gradual recovery of economic activities and a return to normal.

    "I have instructed the minister of mines and energy to make arrangements to restart the refinery, and in the meantime to ensure a steady supply of butane gas and fuel," Ouattara said.

    Ouattara said he had asked generals responsible for security, to take all necessary steps to maintain order and security of goods, people and their movements and also secure the delivery of food to markets and medicines in hospitals and health centres.

    Defiant Gbagbo

    Gbagbo remained defiant on Thursday, even after airstrikes hammered his military bases and his residence, where he is holed up with his wife inside a subterranean tunnel.

    The battle for Abidjan

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    Via a spokesman in Europe, the ruler continued to insist he'd won last November's election and stressed he would never leave the country he has ruled for the past 10 years.

    "I reached the head of state and his wife less than an hour ago and no -- he will not surrender. President Gbagbo will not cede," said his adviser Toussaint Alain by telephone from Paris.

    "It's a question of principle. President Gbagbo is not a monarch. He is not a king. He is not an emperor. He is a president elected by his people."

    Gbagbo has refused to accept defeat even though he was declared the loser of the November election both by his country's electoral body and by international observers including the United Nations.


    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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