Gbagbo's youths to seize Ouattara HQ on New Year's day
A lieutenant of Côte d’Ivoire’s incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo has vowed that the country’s youth will seize rival Alassane Ouattara's headquarters on 1 January in an uprising.
"From January 1, I, Charles Ble Goude and the youth of Côte d’Ivoire are going to liberate the Golf Hotel with our bare hands," the leader of Gbagbo's radical Young Patriots told a cheering crowd in Abidjan on Wednesday.
"It's the moment to liberate Côte d’Ivoire," he declared.
Ouattara, who has been recognised as the country’s president by the international community, has taken refuge with his shadow government in Abidjan's Golf Hotel, since November’s disputed election.
The hotel is currently protected by an 800-strong force of UN peacekeepers and by former rebel fighters.
Ble Goude was placed under UN sanctions after fuelling violent anti-French riots in 2004.
He had cancelled a large-scale street rally planned for Wednesday, saying he wanted Côte d’Ivoire’s political stand-off to be resolved by regional diplomacy.
Both the incumbent and Ouattara claim to be the winner of Côte d’Ivoire’s 28 November election run-off.