Military leaders in Ivory Coast have pledged their loyalty to the president-elect Alassane Ouattara – including those who led the bloody campaign to keep his rival Laurent Gbagbo in power.
It is a major boost for Ouattara’s legitimacy. He faces the unenviable task of uniting the people after a four month power struggle that has divided the country.
Philippe Mangou, Gbagbo’s former army chief of staff, said: ‘In the name of the armed forces of Ivory Coast, the very first words that come to our lips are the words “sorry” and “reconciliation”.’
Their allegiance emerged after the arrest of Gbagbo, who had clung onto power refusing to recognise international calls that he had been beaten at the ballot box.
He is still being held at the hotel in Abidjan where Ouattara and his government-in-waiting had set up their temporary headquarters.
The French military had pounded Gbagbo’s residence before the arrest although Paris was keen to play down its role.
France’s Prime Minister Francois Fillon has said there is now no need for French forces to remain in the long term.