Ivory Coast's Gbagbo still negotiating exit deal: France

6th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo, holed up in an Abidjan bunker and surrounded by rival forces, was Wednesday continuing negotiations on the terms of his departure, France's foreign minister said.

"We have asked the United Nations to guarantee his physical security and that of his family... and to organise the conditions of his departure. That is the only thing left to negotiate," Alain Juppe told France Info radio.

French armed forces chief Edouard Guillaud said the negotiations had continued overnight and that he believed that Gbagbo's departure would come in "a matter of hours."

Guillaud said the strongman had been on the verge of surrender last Friday and again on Monday but had at the last moment changed his mind.

Gbagbo, in an interview broadcast late Tuesday, remained defiant.

"I am not a kamikaze, I love life," he said, when asked if he thought about death as he sat in his bunker.

"My voice is not the voice of a martyr. I am not seeking death but if death comes, it comes."

He said he would not sign a document proposed by France and the United Nations in which he renounces power and recognises Alassane Ouattara as president.

"I do not recognise the victory of Ouattara. Why do you want me to sign this?" Gbagbo told the French news channel LCI.

"I find it absolutely astounding that the life of a country is being played like a poker game in foreign capitals," he added.

© 2011 AFP

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