The Generals in charge of forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo have telephoned the UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire to signal that they intend to hand over their weapons.
UNOCI said the calls came from General Philippe Mangou, the chief-of-staff of the Defence and Security Forces, General Thiape Kassarate Edouard, the commander of the National Gendarmerie and General Bruno Dogbo Blé, the commander of the Republican Guard.
In return, UNOCI has given orders to its troops to receive arms wherever they are handed in and to offer protection to the disarmed elements of the FDSCI (Defence and Security Forces of Côte d’Ivoire), including the Special Forces.
Fighting in the capital, Abidjan, has centred on the Presidential Palace, which is still occupied by the previous President, Laurent Gbago, who refuses to cede power to the President-elect, Alassaine Ouattara. The election result was changed after the Constitutional Court struck off a large number of votes for Ouattara. However, the UN maintains that even with the discounted ballot papers, Ouattara had the majority of the vote.
The UN, the African Union and local leaders had pleaded with Gbagbo to step down, before the forces of Alassaine Ouattara started to take the country by force. Additional firepower was lent by UN helicopters and French forces when the heavy artillery of Gbagbo’s forces allegedly threatened the lives of civilians caught in the crossfire.