(HN, April 6, 2011) UPDATED 2230GMT Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo remains in an underground bunker at the presidential compound in Abidjan.
However one email update from a French diplomat and shared with HUMNEWS suggested its is now only a matter of hours before Gbagbo is defeated. "It will not be long now...Gbagbo is VERY close to end," the email said.
Meanwhile, according to text messages from residents reporting in real time on an online site in Ivory Coast, the Abidjan town and commune of Port Bouet has seen violent clashes between locals and pro-Gbagbo FESCI (Fédération estudiantine et scolaire de Côte d'Ivoire) militia - resulting in many deaths. Witnesses said they saw bodies in the streets, burning houses and campus buildings on fire.
According to The Economist, Gbagbo appeared on television late Tuesday night declaring that he has no intention of stepping down as president, despite the defection of most of his troops and the destruction of artillery by French and UN forces. Gbagbo’s announcement was in stark contradiction to a claim by his official spokesman a few hours earlier that he was negotiating the terms of his departure.
UN forces have been using Mi-24 helicopters to target what they say are weapons and ammunition locations operated by forces loyal to Gbagbo.
Today, the French army commander in Abidjan said he expects it will only be a “matter of hours” before Gbagbo gives himself up.
Meanwhile the situation for residents of Abidjan continues to deteriorate. Those who can are fleeing the city for safer havens, and aid agencies report that thousands are streaming over the country's borders.
Said one western diplomat in an email shared with HUMNEWS: "It really is getting desperate here. There is no food water or electricity in most of the city. Even if it were all to end today, people are going to go hungry because everywhere has been looted. It is almost certain there will be a humanitarian disaster in Abidjan unless this ends."
According to a HUMNEWS source, several embassies have asked the UN mission to evacuate the last of their personnel in Abidjan.