Ivory Coast rebels take another town; thousands enlist to support Gbagbo


A man is carried by a few of the thousands of young supporters of Ivorian strongman Laurent Gbagbo who gathered to enlist in the Ivorian army, on March 21, 2011 in Abidjan. Fervent backers of Gbagbo streamed to enlist in his armed forces Monday as the UN faced pressure to do more to protect civilians in soaring post-election bloodshed.


Sia Kambou

An armed group supporting Ivory Coast's Alassane Ouattara as winner of the presidential election has reportedly captured another town in the western part of the country from forces loyal to Laurent Gbagbo.

Meanwhile, thousands of Gbagbo supporters gathered Monday at an army headquarters to sign up for military service in the main city Abidjan. According to Bloomberg, The line at the only place in the country to enlist in the military stretched for about 500 yards.

The recruits were reportedly heeding a March 19 call by Charles Ble Goude, the leader of Young Patriots youth militia.

A spokesman for the rebel group, which Ouattara has recognized as his military and renamed the Ivory Coast Republican Forces (FRCI), told Reuters: "The town of Blolequin is now under the control of the FRCI since this morning, after intense combat."

Another member of the FRCI, Lass Com, told Bloomberg: “We entered into the town of Blolequin at 8 a.m. this morning after fighting all night” against troops loyal to incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo. He added: “The combat was very violent.”

He said Guillaume Soro, Ouattara’s designated prime minister, ordered the fighters to secure the far western part of the country.

The U.N. and African Union have acknowledged Ouattara as the country's rightful president after a Nov. 28 election, but Gbagbo refuses to cede power.

Subsequent fighting has forced about 90,000 people to cross into neighbouring Liberia, the U.N. refugee agency says.

Ivory Coast, the world's largest cocoa producer, used to enjoy the highest living standards in West Africa, according to the BBC. The November election was supposed to reunite it after a 2002-3 civil war.