Ivory Coast Leader Under Siege

April 7, 2011  |  

(New York Times) — Opposition forces in Ivory Coast on Wednesday blasted away at the residence of the nation’s strongman, Laurent Gbagbo, hoping to seize him alive for a possible trial after he refused French and United Nations demands to step down.  The all-day assault on Mr. Gbagbo’s heavily guarded and well-armed redoubt, complete with tanks and antiaircraft defenses, marked a new and perhaps ultimate phase in the international campaign to dislodge a man who has clung to power long after losing an election and the world’s recognition as a legitimate leader.

As the fighting swelled and ebbed on Wednesday, millions of residents of Abidjan, once one of the world’s major ports, suffered another day of privation. Water, food and electricity all waned on the fifth day of the battle for the city.  Relief officials spoke of a burgeoning humanitarian crisis, as daily life — already squeezed by international sanctions — ground to a virtual halt, the streets remained dangerous even for simple shopping trips and armed partisans roamed.

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