Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo is refusing steadfastly to relinquish power, despite the circle of opposition and UN troops closing in around the Abidjan bunker where he is holed up.
Hundreds of his soldiers have been taken prisoner as presidential claimant Alassane Ouatarra spoke out for the first time since his forces began a major push to oust the incumbent.
In a televised address, Ouattara seemed to be assuming the reins of power. He called for sanctions on ports to be lifted and for banks to reopen so beleaguered civilians could try to edge back towards normality.
He also appealed for unity and pledged to investigate claims of atrocities committed by troops on both sides.
A week of intense fighting has turned the main city of Abidjan into a war zone. Residents are terrified to step outside.
The French army released footage of its efforts to help foreign nationals flee the fighting.
Adults and children alike were equipped with bullet-proof jackets and escorted out of the city.
On Wednesday, French forces rescued the Japanese ambassador and seven others after they came under attack.