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Ivory Coast Fighters Begin Final Push

Pro-Ouattara forces close in on presidential palace
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 1, 2011 1:22 AM CDT

(Newser) – Fighters loyal to the Ivory Coast's elected president have descended on the country's main city in a final push to oust incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo. Forces backing internationally recognized leader Alassane Outtara have made rapid advances in recent days and now control around 80% of the country, AP reports. Heavy fighting has been reported around the presidential palace in Abidjan, where Gbagbo is believed to be holed up and preparing a last stand.

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Thousands of troops have deserted Gbagbo and his top general has sought refuge at the home of the South African ambassador. "I have come to restore democracy and ensure respect of the vote by the people," Ouattara said in a televised address. "To all those who are still hesitating, whether you are generals, superior officers, officers, sub officers, rank-and-file—there is still time to join your brothers-in-arms." He has offered assurances that Gbagbo will not be harmed if he steps down. (Read more Laurent Gbagbo stories.)

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