200K Flee Worsening Ivory Coast Violence
Thousands flee Abobo, as gunfire fills the district
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2011 10:43 AM CDT
Fighters opposed to Laurent Gbagbo's bid to cling to power man a roadblock in the Abobo district of Abidjan, Ivory Coast Saturday.   (AP Photo / Rebecca Blackwell)

(Newser) – Worsening clashes between the two men who claim the Ivory Coast's presidency have driven some 200,000 people from the country's economic capital over the past two weeks, reports Reuters. Machine gun battles between the two forces raged over the weekend in the Abobo district of Abidjan, home to much of the worst fighting, virtually emptying the neighborhood. "Things are calm now, apart from gunfire here and there. But people are leaving," says one Abobo resident.

Attempts by the African Union to mediate the conflict failed last week, as incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo has refused to cede power to Alassane Ouattara, who won elections last November. The AU reaffirmed Outtara as the country's rightful leader Friday, and proposed that he lead a united government. "We ... reaffirm our total rejection of this proposition," responded a Gbagbo spokesman, calling the proposal "without any justification."