Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo has been arrested by forces loyal to his rival, Alassane Ouattara, following an assault on his residence in Abidjan. Pro-Ouattara forces have taken to the streets in celebration.
UN and French troops attacked Gbagbo's compound
Ivory Coast ruler Laurent Gbagbo has surrendered to the forces of the country's internationally recognized president, Alassane Ouattara, the United Nations said Monday.
A spokesman for Ouattara said Gbagbo and his entourage were currently being kept at Abidjan's Golf Hotel, where Ouattara has been based since last November's election.
In a televised statement to the country on Monday evening, Ouattara announced that legal proceedings would be brought against Gbagbo, his wife and his allies, stating that "all measures" were being taken to protect them.
He also urged individuals to refrain from violent reprisals against Gbagbo supporters. "I ask you to remain calm and show restraint," Ouattara said, adding that the country was "at the dawn of a new era of hope."
A French Foreign Ministry source said it was Ouattara's forces that had arrested Gbagbo and not, as earlier reported, French troops.
News of Gbagbo's arrest caused thousands of Ouattara supporters to take to the streets in celebration. Youth danced and cheered in parts of Abidjan, while many more welcomed the news in the central city of Bouake.
Crisis not over
Following Gbagbo's arrest, UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy stressed that the leadership of the UN Security Council still felt Ivory Coast was in crisis.
"It is an important step in the process, but we cannot call it euphoria. This is not over. It is extremely important that we maintain law and order inside Abidjan and the whole country," he said.
Speaking in Washington, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Gbagbo's capture "sends a strong signal to dictators" that they "may not disregard" the voices of their people. "There will be consequences for those who cling to power," she added.
Gbagbo was held after his arrest at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan
Germany welcomed Gbagbo's detention, with Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle saying it offered the West African country a genuine opportunity for democracy. "It gives us hope that the civil war will be quickly over," Westerwelle told reporters in Berlin.
Britain, meanwhile, called for a "fair and properly organized judicial process" for the deposed president.
Over the last few days, a defiant Gbagbo had been holed up in a bunker in his residence with a few faithful followers, refusing to cede power to Ouattara, the internationally-recognized winner of last year's disputed presidential poll.
The violence since the elections has left hundreds of people dead and displaced around one million more.
Author: Rob Mudge, Darren Mara, Richard Connor (dpa, Reuters, AFP)
Editor: Michael Lawton