Already it is a country divided. Now tension has increased further, with angryprotests at the president’s resolve to remain in power.
Midnight on Sunday was when the mandate of Ivory Coast’s leader was due to come to an end, but in a broadcast to the nation, Laurent Gbagbo made clear he was staying put.
He said he was acting according to the constitution and would never allow what he called “the decapitation of the state.” Bolstered by a UN peace plan that gives him up to 12 more months in office, Gbagbo says he will hold onto power until elections can be held.
The west African country was split in two by a civil war that created a rebel enclave in the north. Anti-Gbagbo protests took place there as well as in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s main commercial city. Only warning shots and tear gas prevented demonstrators marching on the presidential palace.The rebels meanwhile have made a symbolic gesture of defiance, naming their leader as prime minister of what they called a future government of national reconciliation.