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Ivory Coast ex-rebel forces close in on capital

Wires are reporting this morning that the ex-rebel forces who back president-elect Alassane Ouattara in the Ivory Coast are close to recapturing the country’s capital, Yamoussoukro, from outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo this morning — a win that would pave the way for the forces’ march to Abidjan, just 143 kilometers away.  The good news is ...

ZOOM DOSSO/AFP/Getty Images
ZOOM DOSSO/AFP/Getty Images

Wires are reporting this morning that the ex-rebel forces who back president-elect Alassane Ouattara in the Ivory Coast are close to recapturing the country’s capital, Yamoussoukro, from outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo this morning — a win that would pave the way for the forces’ march to Abidjan, just 143 kilometers away. 

The good news is that military pressure seems to have made its point upon Gbagbo, who offered a ceasefire and urged mediation today. That marks the first time in the four month long crisis that Gbagbo has shown any interest in negotiations. 

But the bad news is that, by now, Ouattara’s men are no longer interested in talking. They want to take the country by force — probably right to the very heart of the country in Abidjan, where both presidents, Gbagbo and Ouattara, are hold up. If it comes to that, it would undoubtedly be a bloody battle.

In the meantime, Gbagbo and Ouattara are both waging a propoganda and PR campaign simultaneous to hard military action. Reporters Without Borders today reports that Gbagbo has shut down opposition web sites; text message services have been  shut down for week. Ouattara’s spokesmen have been on international radio — particularly the BBC — denouncing Gbagbo’s atrocities and his unwillingness to step down. 

Bottom line: Now would be a really great time for the African Union to get a serious mediator into Abidjan. 

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