Former rebels loyal to would-be Ivorian leader Alassane Ouattara fought a fierce battle with troops backing his rival Laurent Gbagbo on Thursday, in an apparent bid to break a siege on their Abidjan base.For those who forgot their scorecards, L. Gbagbo is the incumbent President of Côte d'Ivoire who apparently lost the election. A. Ouattara is the supposed winner...
A heavy exchange of fire erupted at around 11.30am (1130 GMT) and several explosions were heard in the area around the Golf Hotel, Ouattara's waterfront base in the Ivory Coast commercial capital.
You might ask "Where are the UNOCI (U.N. peacekeepers) in all this?"
...well, other than being the doughnut between Ouattara and company inside the Golf Hotel grounds and the National Army surrounding them, it isn't really clear. Rioting has broken out over much of the city of Abidjan, but that seems to be a "Chinese Biathlon" (the Army does the shooting; the demonstrators do the running. cf. Tian'anmen Square, 1989). So much for seeing to local order, and all that.
There is going to need to be a bit of re-enforcement required for UNOCI to be able to do much more than guard its bases if this continues to spiral out of control. That's going to mean not just more money (it is already budgeted at nearly US$500 million for this year to keep roughly 7,500 troops and 1,300 police in country)... it means that somebody with significant logistical and combat power is probably going to have to step in. I'm not at all sure that ECOWAS (West African community; Nigerian-led forces) can manage that.
That's another thing I'd love to wrong about, by the way.
More details on this from the BBC. (and the source of the *correction*, above)