Fighters in Ivory Coast Push Into Abidjan

BY News Desk  March 31, 2011 at 3:28 PM EDT

Members of Pro-Ouattara forces hold their weapons on March 29 in Duekoue in western Ivory Coast. (Zoom Dosso/AFP/Getty Images) Members of Pro-Ouattara forces hold their weapons on March 29 in Duekoue in western Ivory Coast. (Zoom Dosso/AFP/Getty Images)

Forces loyal to democratically elected president Alassane Ouattara are pressing into Ivory Coast’s main city, Abidjan, in a bid to wrest control of the country from incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to relinquish his post.

Ouattara said in a televised speech Thursday that his forces are working to “reestablish democracy and to ensure that the people’s vote is respected.”

But one of Gbagbo’s advisers said he would not resign: “He will not resign in the wake of this attack. He is not going to abdicate. He is not going to lay down his arms. He will stay in power to lead the resistance to this attack against Ivory Coast,” said Toussaint Alain in Paris, according to the Associated Press.

Adding international pressure, the U.N. Security Council voted unanimously Wednesday to impose an asset freeze and travel ban on Gbagbo, his wife and three close associates.

According to the United Nations, at least 462 people have been killed since Gbagbo refused to cede power after the majority of voters in November chose Ouattara as their next leader.

Meanwhile, Gen. Edouard Kassarate, who is in charge of the country’s police, has defected, and army chief Phillippe Mangou has taken refuge in the South African ambassador’s residence in Abidjan, reported the Christian Science Monitor.

In addition to moving into Abidjan, forces supporting Ouattara, who call themselves the Republican Forces of Ivory Coast, have taken control of the key port city of San Pedro and the nation’s capital, Yamoussoukro. The AP summarizes the developments:

An eyewitness, long-time Abidjan resident Nfor Susungi, reported hearing heavy gunfire in distant parts of the city and in other places seeing oddly quiet streets, according to the BBC.

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