by PETE DOERRIE
Incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo was captured Monday, ending the electoral dispute that reignited civil war. Earlier, with the support of Angolan elite troops, Gbagbo retook parts of the city earlier controlled by “Republican Forces” of president-elect Alassane Ouattara, who entered Abidjan after a lightning offensive through the country. During the recent fights, Gbagbo’s forces even fired on the opposition’s U.N.-protected headquarters.
Despite this violence it seemed unlikely Gbagbo would hold out much longer. Ouattara, who is the internationally recognized winner of the elections, convinced the European Union to lift sanctions on the two major ports of the country, a move that will enable him to restart the export of cocoa and generate much-needed income for his government. But even after Gbagbo’s ouster, the use of irregular militias on both sides of the conflict may obstruct the return to peace in Ivory Coast for a long time.
Democratic Republic of Congo
News broke late last month that the government is negotiating to relocate up to 1,500 fighters of the FDLR from their current headquarters near Walikale. The fighters, partly remnants of the forces responsible for the 1994 genocide in Rwanda, will lay down their arms and be accompanied by their families. As the FDLR is seen as one of the main drivers of insecurity in the region, such a deal would have a lasting and positive impact on the situation. But many observers advise to take the news with a large pinch of salt, as similar deals have not been successful in the past.
Muammar Gaddafi’s forces are on the offensive against rebels from the east of the country despite continuing NATO air strikes. At the same time a delegation of the African Union under the leadership of South African president Jacob Zuma arrived in the country to negotiate a peaceful settlement to the conflict. But as the rebels are unlikely to accept any deal that keeps Gaddafi in power, and as the regime just took the town of Ajdabiya — a strategic town on the road to the rebel-stronghold Benghazi — a settlement seems unlikely at the moment.