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Ivorian leader Gbagbo refuses to step down

Ivorian leader Gbagbo refuses to step down
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In Ivory Coast, Laurent Gbagbo appears to be on the brink of finally agreeing to step down. The situation is confused however. Following earlier reports that he had already stepped down and asked for UN protection, Gbagbo has now told French television that he is not ready to give up at all: “I’m not a kamikaze. I love life. My voice is not the voice of a martyr. No no, I do not seek death! To die is not my goal here!”

It is thought that one of the problems in the negotiations might be finding a refuge for Gbagbo. It is possible he could go to Angola as he has a close relationship with President Santos, and South Africa also appears to be a possibility. He is unlikely to choose anywhere in the west or in Europe because there, he may well be wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Laurent Gbagbo has spent most of the day in an underground bunker at the presidential palace in Abidjan – as negotiations were carried out following fierce fighting across the country and UN strikes on the presidential palace.

The violence flared up after last November’s elections which were won by Gbagbo’s rival Alassane Ouattara. The results were internationally recognised and the UN declared him to be the legitimate president of Ivory Coast. However, the incumbent president, Larent Gbagbo refused to relinquish his position and leave power.

His refusal to step down in favour of the rightful president has resulted in months of unrest and violence.