Forces of president-elect Alassane Ouattara arrested outoing President Laurent Gbagbo at his residence in Abidjan on Monday, after an assault on the compound that involved French and U.N. troops. Reuters reported that 30 tanks made their way from the French military base toward the neighborhood where Gbagbo resides. The battle that followed has finally put an end to a four-month long crisis over who was running the Ivory Coast.
Well, at least the immediate crisis. The hard part — getting this country back to normality — still awaits.
The most immediate complication will be the way that Gbagbo finally left power: with the help of the French. Initial reports of the arrest indicated that the French special forces were the ones who had made the catch; French officials and Ouattara government spokesmen have since emphasized that it was the Ivorian president’s troops who have detained Gbagbo. But at this point, that’s a detail. The French have been intimately involved in this operation since last week, including by bombing the heavy arms held by the Gbagbo loyalists. There’s no question that the French troops were vital in securing this end to the conflict.
I don’t have any particularly useful thoughts about how this situation has been “resolved.” I do hope that Ivory Coast can achieve some modicum of peace in the next few months. I also wonder whether anyone in Libya (on either side) will draw lessons from how this ended.