11 April 2011 – The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Côte d’Ivoire today confirmed that the country’s former president Laurent Gbagbo has surrendered to forces loyal to President-elect Alassane Ouattara and is currently in their custody.
“ONUCI [UN Operation in Côte d’Ivoire] is providing protection and security in accordance with its Security Council mandate,” the spokesperson of the Secretary-General told reporters at UN Headquarters.
Côte d'Ivoire has been engulfed by violence since last November, when Mr. Gbagbo refused to step down from power, despite losing a UN-certified and internationally recognized presidential election to Mr. Ouattara.
Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain Le Roy told reporters after briefing the Security Council that Mr. Gbagbo was currently in an apartment in the Golf Hotel in Abidjan, where Mr. Ouattara and his entourage have been based under UNOCI protection since the result of the election was declared.
“I can confirm that the former president and his wife are at the Golf Hotel… UNOCI has been requested to ensure their security,” said Mr. Le Roy, adding that it was up to Mr. Ouattara to decide what do to with his predecessor.
He stressed that UNOCI’s military operation yesterday against Mr. Gbagbo’s forces was in response to their attacks against the UN and civilians in Abidjan. Mr. Gbagbo’s forces had also shelled Mr. Ouattara’s residence at the weekend, he said.
Mr. Le Roy described Mr. Gbagbo’s surrender as a “very important step in the process,” but added that “the crisis is not over yet” in the West African nation.
Up to a million people have been displaced by the violence, and humanitarian aid has not been able to reach many of those in need, sparking warnings from senior UN officials about the dire situation.
“The Council is pleased [with the latest development], but it is not euphoria,” Mr. Le Roy said. He noted that there were still likely to be pockets of resistance in Abidjan, but the city was largely quiet.
The Under-Secretary-General said that the commander of Mr. Gbagbo’s republican guard had contacted the UN, stating that the wanted to surrender his weapons. About 200 members of Mr. Gbagbo’s forces have also surrendered to UNOCI, he added.