After a series of encouraging reports on Tuesday that the entrenched strongman leader of the Ivory Coast was in talks to surrender, or had even done so, forces loyal to Alassane Outtara — who won a presidential election there in November — have begun storming Laurent Gbagbo's bunker in order to physically remove him.
Backed by the United Nations and French government troops, the Outtara forces have had Gbagbo surrounded in his compound for two days. While the embattled despot has said he would surrender, he has stopped shy of doing so. The holdup: Gbagbo reportedly can't admit that he lost the Nov. 28 election. "That admission is central to the terms of a surrender being negotiated by France, the United Nations, and the government of the country's internationally-recognized leader, Alassane Ouattara," Voice of America reported.
The comparison to Adolf Hitler's desperate last days at the end of World War II has not been lost on Outtara's supporters. According to South Africa's NewsTime, "Last night the pro-Ouattara television station TCI played scenes from the Hitler documentary 'Downfall'."
Now, Outtara's troops are tired of waiting. They opened fire on Gbagbo's compound today, then rushed in, but so far no reports have confirmed Gbagbo's capture. CNN talked to Mamadou Toure, a spokesman for Outtara's troops about what they hoped to achieve. "Gbagbo decided not to surrender so Ouattara's forces were left with no other choice. The aim is to get him out of the residence without harming him.... President Alassane Ouattara will have to decide what happens next." Another Outtara spokesman, Patrick Achi, said, "seems like he has lost his mind."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.