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Côte d'Ivoire: Abidjan in the Waning Hours of Gbagbo's Regime

Categories: Sub-Saharan Africa, Cote d'Ivoire, Breaking News, International Relations, Politics, War & Conflict

This post is part of our special coverage Côte d'Ivoire Unrest 2011 [1].

The last two days have been rich in twists and turns in Côte d'Ivoire.

Forces loyal to Alassane Dramane Ouattara, the internationally recognised president of Côte d'Ivoire, and Guillaume Soro, Ouattara's prime minister, began an offensive [2] towards the South and the West of the country. In less than three days, they succeeded in taking over the cities of Douékoué and reached Yamoussoukro on March 30th. The Forces Républicaine de Côte d'Ivoire (Republican Forces of Côte d'Ivoire) have entered Abidjan, the main city of Côte d'Ivoire where the incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to step down in December 2010 after losing the presidential election, may still be located.

The Ivorian online community commented on the events, and here is a quick snapshot of a few conversations.

Fear of MACA Prisoners

Maison d'Arrêt et de Correction d'Abidjan (MACA) is the prison [3] of Abidjan. Following news that prisoners had been released, Léon Guéré (@Cocoloposo [4]) wrote on Twitter on March 31:

@cocoloposo [5]: #civ2010 URGENT: MACA ouverte tous les prisonniers sont dehors.(police)

Breaking News: MACA opened, prisoners on the lam

Following this announcement, netizens started fearing that these prisoners would be given weapons:

@Abidjannais225 [6], replying to @Cocoloposo, said:

@Abidjannais225 [6]: Confirmez SVP !!! P…. mais c grave, LMP veut creer la chienlit au pays

Confirm please ! This is serious. LMP [party of Laurent Gbagbo] wants to create chaos in the country

Online activist “K.” (@Sanders225) confirmed [7] the same day that prisoners of the MACA, and from two other prisons had been freed. Later, a news story on Reuters said up to 5000 prisoners had been freed [8] in Abidjan.

Where is Laurent Gbagbo ?

Guillaume Soro, the prime minister announced that Laurent Gbagbo had until 7pm GMT [9] on March 31, 2011 to resign. This caused plenty of ironic reactions on the Twitter hashtag for news on Côte d'Ivoire, #civ2010 [10]:

Fifteen minutes before the announced deadline, @Malko7 tweeted a countdown:

@Malko7 [11]: Heure H-15 minutes

Hour H-15 minutes

And when the time was reached, Marie L'Ange (@Attou_225) commented:

@Attou_225 [12]: c'est l'heuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuure!!!!

It's tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimme!!!!!!

Nnenna tweeted:

@Nnenna [13]: Il est 19h ici chez moi. On dit koi?

It's 7pm here. What's up?

In the meantime, violent clashes [14] were taking place at the Radio Télévision Ivoirienne, Ivorian National TV. The station was managed by Gbagbo partisans until the day before.

Between 9pm GMT and 10.40 GMT, the same video was broadcast repeatedly: Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone, surrounded by their close entourage having a conversation in the Garden of the Presidential Residence in Cocody. Laurent Gbagbo looks preoccupied, and Simone does not seem to realise the current situation of Abidjan, as shown in the following video [15] posted by abidjannetTV [16], the YouTube account of the Ivorian news site:

The signal of the RTI finally stopped at 10.40 pm GMT, as shown in this picture shared by Olivier Vauluisant (@batelier59 [17]):


End of Transmission of RTI's signal Batelier59 on Twitpic

According to Senam Beheton (@SenamBeheton) on Twitter, these images where shown while Ouattara's FRCI were taking control of the State Television:

@SenamBeheton [19] : Les propriétaires sont peut-être arrivés. La recréation est terminée?

Landlords have probably arrived. Is playtime over ?

Sky News was reporting on April 1 [20] that Laurent Gbagbo and his wife could still be in their palace in Cocody, while surrounded by Ouattara's FRCI. Later the same day, another version was given according to which Laurent Gbagbo and wife Simone had left the residence for the Presidential Palace in Plateau Area [21] [Fr], Abidjan. EdithBrou [22] wrote on Twitter:

the palace and the radio, in the Plateau and residence remain the bastions of Gbagbo according to a diplomat contacted by #AFP

Côte d'Ivoire trending

The recent events in Côte d'Ivoire were closely followed on Twitter, where #civ2010 and Laurent Gbagbo were trending topics in France:


This post is part of our special coverage Côte d'Ivoire Unrest 2011 [1].