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Gbagbo 'will not discuss surrender'

A spokesman for Ivory Coast's entrenched leader says Laurent Gbagbo will not cede power to the internationally recognised president.

The representative said he spoke to Gbagbo at around 1pm on Thursday inside the Abidjan bunker where he is hiding and Gbagbo reiterated he would not negotiate his surrender.

Toussaint Alain said by telephone from Paris that Gbagbo wants a meeting with Alassane Ouattara, who was declared the winner of last year's election.

Mr Alain said Gbagbo does not want France to be involved in the discussions.

The 65-year-old ruler has been holed up inside the bunker with his wife for days. The United Nations with help from France began air strikes on Monday to take out his arsenal, with forces backing Mr Ouattara surrounding the presidential residence.

Mr Alain said: "I reached the head of state and his wife less than an hour ago, and no, he will not surrender. President Gbagbo will not cede. It's a question of principle. President Gbagbo is not a monarch. He is not a king. He is not an emperor. He is a president elected by his people."

An adviser for Mr Ouattara said his fighters had surrounded the property and planned to sit it out.

"We're going to wait and let him come out like a rat," said the adviser who requested anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the press.

An armed group backing Mr Ouattara stormed the gates of Gbagbo's home on Wednesday, but are fearful of killing the entrenched leader and stoking the rage of his supporters. Some 46% of Ivorians voted for Gbagbo in the November election that unleashed political chaos.


From Belfast Telegraph