The Wild West

A mess in Guiglo

These Liberian mercenaries seem to be a real pain. AFP reports:

Hundreds of Liberian ”mercenaries” have gone on a rampage of rape, murder and looting in the western Ivory Coast region of Guiglo, a virtual lawless zone, the UN refugee agency said today.

Spokesman Jacques Franquin told AFP the mercenaries were an opportunistic “third force” taking advantage of post-election clashes between troops loyal to strongman Laurent Gbagbo and those supporting internationally recognised president Alassane Ouattara.

“They are neither pro-Gbagbo nor pro-Ouattara, they are merely profiting from the situation. They loot, they rape, they kill,” said Franquin, of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Abidjan.

“We are very concerned, the population is panicked.” “Guiglo is in a lawless zone, there is no functioning police, everyone does what they want.”

So if I’ve gotten this straight Gbagbo first invites and pays Liberian mercenaries to fight for him, then he runs out of money to pay them, so the Liberians turn on the pro-Gbagbo forces and take over whole cities where they go berserk against the civilian population. Nice work Goobagballs!

Rebel tweets

Alain Lobognon, spokesperson for the pro-Ouattara forces in the north, is tweeting about what’s going on every day (love that by the way), and so far I think he’s been pretty accurate. Today Alain has tweeted the following regarding the city of Guiglo in Gbagbo held territory in the west:

Les FRCI “négocient” le départ des Libériens, qui ont pris Guiglo en otage. #civ2010 Le drame des populations est réel.

[The Repulican Forces of the Ivory Coast (the new name of the ex-rebel forces plus defected soldiers from Gbagbo’s army) are negotiating the departure of the Liberians who have taken Guiglo hostage.  The drama faced by the population is real.]

La présence massive de Libériens à Guiglo est une menace pour la ville. Forcer ou négocier leur départ? Négociation en cours.

[The massive presence of Liberians in Guiglo is a threat to the city. Shall we force or negotiate their departure? Negotiations are taking place.]

Le préfet a fui la ville, les FDS prises également en otages. #civ2010

[The prefect has fled from the city and the FDS (Gbagbo’s forces) are also taken hostage.]

Négociations = couloirs de sortie vers le Liberia… Sans casses. #civ2010

[Negotiations = safe paths to return to Liberia… Without destruction]

Ils réclament leur paie aux FDS. Certains veulent rentrer au Liberia avec les armes.

[They (the Liberians) demand their pay from the FDS. Some want to return to Liberia with their weapons.]

Liberating Guiglo?

So if Alain Lobognon isn’t putting too much spin on things, this seems to be both a propaganda and military debacle for Gbagbo. Guiglo would be the largest city taken so far by the pro-Ouattara forces. It voted for Gbagbo 60% – 40% and is at the center of a cocoa producing region.

Instead of taking the city from Gbagbo forces supported by the local population, pro-Ouattara forces could be liberating it from Liberian mercenaries, which looks a lot better from a “winning hearts and minds” perspective.

 

Central Western Ivory Coast – Click on map to enlarge

The pro-Ouattara forces advance in the last month has been from south of Danane along the A701 to Toulepleu and then east, again along the A701, towards Guiglo.

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