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Troops supporting former president Laurent Gbagbo drive past in a armoured car in the city of Abidjan. Emanuel Ekra/AP
Ivory Coast

Opposition diplomats claim Ivory Coast's Gbagbo 'negotiating surrender'

The Ivory Coast’s ambassador to France – appointed by de facto president Alassane Ouattara – believes the game is up.

THE IVORY COAST’S ambassador to France has said his country’s disputed president, Laurent Gbagbo, is negotiating a surrender to the United Nations – ending a months-long standoff in the country.

AP said the ambassador – who was appointed by Ggabgo’s presumptive successor Alassane Ouattara – said Gbagbo, who has refused to give up power despite losing a run-off election to Ouattara in December, was seeking to strike a deal to stand aside.

The development came after forces led by France and the United States launched attacks on Gbagbo’s presidential palace, in moves described as the “final offensive” to remove Gbagbo from power.

His refusal to stand down, in spite of major international condemnation, has brought the country to the verge of a civil war.

Fighters aiming to topple strongman Gbagbo had succeeded in taking control of almost the entire countryside in just three days last week, but they faltered once they reached the country’s largest city Abidjan, where the presidential palace and residence are located.

Opposition forces now surround both buildings, and as of this morning they were waiting for him to step down.

Yesterday’s offensive included air attacks on the ruler’s home and on three strategic military garrisons, and marked an unprecedented escalation in the international community’s efforts to oust Gbagbo.

Military assaults were also launched against a Gbagbo loyalist camp, Akouedo, which hosted three battallions of the Ivorian army.

- Additional reporting by AP