Forces sent by President-elect Alassane Ouattara on April 11 seized former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo. The arrest comes after months of fighting, that claimed lives and uprooted people, ignited by Gbagbo’s refusal to step down following his loss in last November’s presidential election. Gbagbo had been in office for nearly a decade.
According to the Associated Press, Ouattara’s forces stormed Gbagbo’s residence, implementing a strategic plan to oust the former president. French airstrikes and tanks aided in the capture, which left Gbagbo’s bunker, where he had been hiding, in flames. Ouattara fighters then pulled Gbagbo from the burning building and transported him to the Hotel du Golf in the city of Abidjan. Officials later stated Gbagbo wasn’t harmed during the incident.
“Finally, we have reached the dawn of a new era of hope,” Ouattara said in a televised address, according to CNN. “We had hoped this transfer had been different, but we have to focus on today.
Violence in the country appeared to subside after Gbagbo’s capture, but officials told CNN there were still “pockets of resistance here and there.”
Gbagbo requested and is receiving U.N. protection for he and his wife while they are in custody. Ouattara intends to bring the former leader to justice and wants him to be tried in the Ivory Coast. The new Ivorian leader also wants to launch a Truth And Reconciliation Commission, calling on all fighters to put down their arms.
U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed Gbagbo’s arrest in a recently released statement. “This represents a victory for the democratic will of the Ivorian people, who have suffered for far too long through the instability that followed their election,” the statement read.