Ivory Coast president surrounded by rebels

Laurent Gbagbo’s time in office appears to be nearing the end of its controversial run as opponent fighters encircle his main residence as well as the presidential palace in Abidjan.

Gbagbo has been clinging to power since a presidential election in November, which saw his opponent Alassane Ouattara recognised as the winner by the international community and the African Union.

Gbagbo has refused to step down, creating an increasingly violent political crisis in the country.

Gbagbo’s government has now lost control of around 80% of the country and much of the capital city where fierce fighting has raged for days.

The Ivory Coast’s military has been unable to halt the advance of armed rebels fighting to have Ouattara installed as president.

“There is no question of ceding,” said Gbagbo’s presidential aide, Fred Anderson, striking a defiant tone Friday. “It’s not up to the international community to impose our leader.”

The Ivory Coast’s elections in 2010 were delayed for five years by Gbagbo.

When Outtara won 54% of the vote, the result was recognised by the national electoral commission, the United Nations, the African Union and the Economic Organisation of West African States, but not by the president.

Supporters of Outtara have speculated that embattled President Gbagbo is likely holed up in a bunker beneath the presidential palace, which on Saturday remains surrounded by tanks and military vehicles armed with rocket launchers.

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