The spokesman for Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo tells Channel 4 News “the stage is set for genocide” and there can be no more negotiations while the UN, rebels and French fire on Gbagbo’s residence.
Ahoua Don Mello, Laurent Gbagbo‘s spokesman, told Channel 4 News: “It’s no longer just a matter of who should be President, Gbagbo or Ouattara. Now, it’s about 20 million Ivorians split into two camps. There’s no more brotherhood, no more communication…only hatred.
“We’re heading for a humanitarian catastrophe and the stage is set for genocide.”
It’s no longer a matter of who should be President…we’re heading for a humanitarian catastrophe and the stage is set for genocide. Ahoua Don Mello, Laurent Gbagbo’s spokesman
Mr Don Mello spoke to this programme as Laurent Gbagbo remained ensconced in his bunker, surrounded and fired upon by fighters loyal to Alassane Ouattara – although they have apparently been given orders not to kill him.
The events in Abidjan are the climax of more than four months of fighting in Ivory Coast after President Gbagbo refused to step down after losing the election to Ouattara, the internationally-recognised winner of the contest, in November.
Fighting has since spiralled out of control, dividing the country and sparking a humanitarian crisis. Almost one million people are believed to have fled the violence, in which 1,500 people have died.
There are also concerns over reported war crimes and ethnic massacres, as Channel 4 News discovered.
On Tuesday, it was believed that Gbagbo was coming close to surrender after pressure from the international community and air strikes by UN and French forces – the former colonial power in Ivory Coast.
But Mr Don Mello told Channel 4 News: “Negotiation is no longer an option because of the force used against us by the combination of the French army, the UN and the rebels. The personal residence of the President is constantly fired on and this situation is very critical.”
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said: “The negotiations which were carried out for hours yesterday between the entourage of Laurent Gbagbo and Ivorian authorities have failed because of Gbagbo’s intransigence.”
He had earlier said Gbagbo had “no future” and that it was “absurd” for him to hang on.
Gbagbo himself has been in touch with French television LCI. He said he had suggested talks with Ouattara, but had been declined – and stressed that his army had only laid down weapons and asked for a ceasefire after their defences were destroyed by airstrikes.
“I’m not a kamikaze. I love life. My voice is not the voice of a martyr, no, no, no, I’m not looking for death. It’s not my aim to die,” Gbagbo, told the channel by telephone.