Bloomsberg Business Week: France Says Gbagbo Talks Fail, Ouattara Offensive Resumes
April 6 (Bloomberg) -- Talks over the exit of Laurent Gbagbo, the former leader of Ivory Coast, ended unsuccessfully and forces loyal to President-elect Alassane Ouattara renewed their attack on pro-Gbagbo military units, said Alain Juppe, France’s foreign minister.
“The negotiations started yesterday with Mr. Gbagbo have failed,” Juppe said in Parliament today. “They have been interrupted and the forces of Mr. Ouattara have restarted their offensive.”
Gbagbo began discussing his departure from the world’s largest cocoa producer yesterday, after French and United Nations forces destroyed most of his army’s heavy weapons. French and UN troops are not participating in the current attack, Juppe said.
The 65-year-old remains holed up in a bunker under his residence, which was surrounded by the pro-Ouattara Republican Forces fighters. Gunfire broke out in the neighborhood and near the Agban military camp in Deux-Plateaux district at about 6:30 a.m. and continued through the day.
“Fighting is ongoing,” Meite Sindou, a spokesman for the fighters, said by phone. “The talks last night didn’t bring any results.”
The Republican Forces launched an offensive last week from bases in northern Ivory Coast after a four month stalemate following the country’s disputed Nov. 28 presidential run-off. Gbagbo, who draws much of his support from the south, refused to accept the results, alleging electoral fraud. The UN, U.S., African Union and European Union all recognized Ouattara as the winner.
“It’s not a game of cat and mouse, he’s just the mouse now,” said Pierre Schori, a former Swedish foreign minister who headed the UN mission in the country between 2005 and 2007. “Even if he won’t admit it, I think he is negotiating his exit,” he said by phone from Stockholm today.
Cocoa for July delivery climbed $43, or 1.4 percent, to $3,036 a metric ton at 10:50 a.m. on ICE Futures U.S. in New York. Prices for the chocolate ingredient have risen as much as 34 percent since the disputed election, advancing to a 32-year high of $3,775 a metric ton on March 4.
Ivory Coast’s defaulted dollar-denominated bond gained 6.7 percent to 54.938 cents on the dollar at 2:56 p.m. in Abidjan, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
The renewed attack comes as Luis Moreno-Ocampo, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said he was “very concerned” about reports of mass killings in western Ivory Coast, according to a statement posted to the court’s website. Moreno-Ocampo’s office said it would continue to “collect information on alleged crimes committed there by different parties to the conflict.”
Gbagbo yesterday accused France of intervening in the crisis, saying it “entered directly into war against the Ivory Coast.”
While he would be willing to leave Ivory Coast “if my departure brings peace to my country,” Gbagbo said in an interview with the Paris-based LCI TV news channel, it’s “far from proven” that it would end the conflict. There’s “no agreement on the political front,” Gbabgo said, and he still believed Ouattara didn’t win the president election.
Gbagbo said his actions weren’t those of a “kamikaze”.
“I like life,” he told LCI. “This is not the voice of a martyr.”