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Africa

Fighting moves to pro-Gbagbo district of Abidjan

media An anti-Gbagbo demonstration in Treichville, Abidjan, 8 March 2011 Reuters/Thierry Gouegnon

There is intense fighting in Côte d’Ivoire’s economic capital Abidjan on Monday. For the first time since post-election violence started in November, clashes are taking place in districts of the city loyal to outgoing President Laurent Gbagbo.

There have been weeks of clashes between supporters of Gbagbo and his rival presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara.

“What we’re seeing is what you could call a rebel advance,” says correspondent Marco Chown Oved. “You could only describe these fighters as irregular fighters. These are local groups of young adults who’ve picked up the weapons off dead soldiers and organised themselves into a kind of civil defence committee.”

They began by defending their territory in the pro-Ouattara Abobo district, but have now moved to Yopougon. An attack took place there near the private residence of General Philippe Mangou, head of the Forces Nouvelles loyal to Gbagbo.

Last week the African Union declared that it endorsed Ouattara's victory in last November's elections. This was rejected by Gbagbo's camp.

“Both sides seem to be saying publicly that they looking for a peaceful and mediated solution, but at the same time we’re seeing increasing fighting on both sides of the fence,” says Chown Oved.

“So perhaps what we’re seeing is a bit of a double-speak, and forces loyal to Ouattara are simply giving up on allowing any kind of mediation to take its course and seeing if they can move to a military solution.”

The fighting is still some kilometres away from the presidential palace.

It is unclear whether the mobs are going to be able to press into the heart of the city, as the fighting that has been going on has been on the edges.

The UN Commission for Human Rights on Monday examined a report which calls for an international inquiry on human rights violations in Côte d’Ivoire.

Gbagbo’s troops “have used excessive and lethal force to repress political opponents, leading the country into turmoil and creating a climate of suspicion, fear and repression", the report by the UN high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, concludes.

Some 400 people have died in post-election violence, according to the United Nations.

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