The head of Ivory Coast’s army and a key backer of incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo asked South Africa for sanctuary as fighters loyal to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of last year’s elections, closed in on the commercial capital, Abidjan.
Army Chief of Staff General Phillippe Mangou last night sought refuge at the official residence of South Africa’s ambassador in Ivory Coast, Zodwa Lallie, the Pretoria-based Department of International Relations and Cooperation said.
“The general is in company of his wife and five children,” the department said an e-mailed statement today. “The South African government is in consultation with the relevant parties in the Ivory Coast, Economic Community of West African States, the African Union and the United Nations regarding this matter.”
Mangou had pledged his loyalty and that of the army to Gbagbo, even after the UN recognized Ouattara as the winner of a Nov. 28 vote. Forces loyal to Ouattara have overrun most of the country over the past few weeks, meeting with little resistance from Gbagbo’s troops.
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