A mess in Guiglo
These Liberian mercenaries seem to be a real pain. AFP reports:
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!
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.]
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.
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.