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Gbagbo reported to have offered to surrender amid Ivory Coast ceasefire

President who had maintained a hold on power despite appearing to lose the election last year reported to be asking UN for protection.

UN peacekeepers from Jordan provided security on Monday night on the streets of Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
UN peacekeepers from Jordan provided security on Monday night on the streets of Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
Image: Jane Hahn/AP/Press Association Images

UPDATED 7.29pm

DISPUTED IVORIAN PRESIDENT Laurent Gbago is reported to have surrendered and asked for protection from the UN.

Reuters is reporting that an internal UN document reveals that Gbago is “negotiating the terms of his departure”. However, the agency also reports that Gbago’s offer of surrender is subject to receiving that protection from the UN.

A ceasefire had appeared to be in place in Ivory Coast earlier today with Gbagbo said to be hiding in a bunker in the presidential home that opposition forces now occupy.

The French foreign minister, Alain Juppe, had also confirmed that Gbagbo is in negotiations regarding his departure, according to France 24 which adds that a ceasefire appears to be in place in the capital Abidjan.

A senior diplomat has told AP that Gbagbo’s closest adviser and longtime friend had abandoned him, with fighters loyal to UN recognised president Alassane Ouattara trying to coax Gbagbo out of the bunker.

The source said that Alcide Djedje, who co-founded Gbagbo’s political party and accompanied him to jail decades ago, sought refuge Tuesday at the French ambassador’s residence.

From the embassy, Djedje has told the BBC that a ceasefire has been negotiated and “the war is over”.

Earlier the opposition claimed that Gbagbo was negotiating his surrender.

Forces loyal to Ouattara have been trying to topple Gbagbo for more than four months since he lost the presidential election last November but claimed victory and has tried to maintain power.

The opposition forces had succeeded in taking nearly the entire countryside last week but faltered once they reached the country’s largest city of Abidjan, where the presidential palace and residence are located.

However on Monday, the United Nations and French forces opened fire with attack helicopters on Gbagbo’s arsenal, as columns of foot soldiers allied with Ouattara finally pierced the city limit.

- additional reporting from AP and Susan Daly

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Hugh O'Connell

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