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Pro-Ouattara forces advance in Ivory Coast

Militiamen supporting former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo took position in Abidjan yesterday. Militiamen supporting former Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo took position in Abidjan yesterday. (Jean-Philippe Ksiazek/AFP/Getty Images)
Associated Press / April 1, 2011

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ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — Fighters trying to install Ivory Coast’s democratically elected president months after the disputed vote descended on the country’s largest city yesterday, aiming to unseat the nation’s entrenched ruler as gunfire broke out across Abidjan.

The regular army has put up almost no resistance during an offensive that began Monday, allowing the forces backing internationally recognized leader Alassane Ouattara to take 80 percent of the country in a matter of days. Soldiers abandoned their posts, shedding their uniforms and running.

As the columns of pro-Ouattara forces advanced, the head of the army, General Phillippe Mangou, sought refuge at the home of the South African ambassador in Abidjan with his wife and five children, South Africa’s foreign ministry said in a statement yesterday.

Former president Laurent Gbagbo has not been seen in public for weeks, even though state TV announced twice Wednesday evening that he was preparing to address the nation.

“The end is almost here. It’s a matter of hours,’’ said Patrick Achi, spokesman for Ouattara.

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