Thousands of supporters of Ivory Coast’s disputed President Laurent Gbagbo have gathered at an army base to enlist, amid fears the crisis could destabilise West Africa.
The young activists were heeding a call to join the army from a key ally of Mr Gbagbo, Charles Ble Goude.
He urged them to fight supporters of Alassane Ouattara, widely recognised as the winner of last year’s elections.
The conflict is certain to escalate, and possibly destabilize the whole region. Refugees are flooding across the border into Liberia, which just ended a civil war. The needs of the refugees are straining the limited resources of that country. Other refugees are heading east into Ghana.
Ivory Coast, the world’s largest cocoa producer, used to enjoy the highest living standards in West Africa.
The November election was supposed to reunite it after a 2002-3 civil war but Mr Gbagbo refuses to cede power.
There are 9,000 UN Peacekeepers in Cote d’Ivoire, stationed there to monitor the 2003 cease-fire. They have been providing security for Mr. Outtara, winner of the November elections.
The UN helped organise the election and says that Mr Ouattara won – a position endorsed by the African Union, which has said Mr Gbagbo should stand down by 24 March.
What happens next? Most likely more violence, as grown men use the poor to fight for them.
- 435 killed since disputed election
- 500,000 forced from their homes
- 9,000 UN peacekeepers to monitor 2003 ceasefire
- Election intended to reunite country
- World’s largest cocoa producer
- Previously seen as haven of peace and prosperity in West Africa
- Alassane Ouattara recognised as president-elect
- International sanctions imposed to force Laurent Gbagbo to go