France says Gbagbo negotiating, he says not yet
Côte d’Ivoire’s former leader Laurent Gbagbo was Wednesday continuing negotiations on the terms of his departure, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said. But, speaking to RFI late Tuesday, Gbagbo denied the claim, saying he wanted a ceasefire before he would talk.
"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," Juppé told France Info radio.
French armed forces chief Edouard Guillaud added that the negotiations had continued overnight and that he believed that Gbagbo's departure would come in "a matter of hours."
But Gbagbo told RFI, “We’re not quite at that stage yet.”
“What are we talking about? My going from where to where?” he asked.
Admitting that French forces had destroyed much of his forces’ heavy weaponry, ammunition dumps and broadcasting centres, he said that his allies wanted an end to the clashes and implied that he was ready to negotiate with his rival, internationally recognised president Alassane Ouattara.
“The army has called for an end to the fighting, especially from the French,” Gbagbo said. “Of course, that implies a general ceasefire. That’s what the army is talking about. After that, I want the politicians – the civilians – to take over and have talks about ending the crisis. Then you can ask me questions. Right now I’m not negotiating.”
Abidjan, where Gbagbo is holding out against Ouattara’s forces, was calm on Thursday for morning for the first time for several days.
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