Teargas fired at protesters

2011-02-19 12:40

Security forces loyal to Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo fired tear gas today to disperse several hundred rallying supporters of his rival Alassane Ouattara.

The mostly young protesters fled after security forces fired the tear gas as they attempted to march to Inch’Allah square in the Koumassi neighbourhood of the capital, an AFP photographer said.

The west African country has been in political and economic crisis since November 28 presidential elections, which most of the international community recognised as won by Ouattara.

Gbagbo has refused to quit power, despite strong domestic and foreign pressure. He has ruled the country, which was divided by conflict from 2002, since 2000.

Tensions rose this week after a run on banks that led Gbagbo to announce on Thursday he would take control of the two French affiliates.

Yesterday security forces loyal to Gbagbo were deployed outside the banks.

As Ouattara’s supporters made plans for a series of demonstrations around the country this weekend, Gbagbo yesterday also issued a decree declaring a night-time curfew for the next three days.

A mission by five African presidents to break the political impasse is set to take place on Monday and has received a strong endorsement from UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The panel representing Africa’s five regions is chaired by President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania and includes Jacob Zuma, Idriss Deby of Chad, Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania and Blaise Compaore of Burkina Faso.

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