, ABIDJAN, Apr 11 – Key dates in the presidential career of Ivory Coast politician Laurent Gbagbo, who on Monday was in the hands of his rival Alassane Ouattara after being captured at his Abidjan residence:
– 2000: Elections organised by the military are widely perceived to have been rigged. A key candidate from the mainly Muslim north, Alassane Ouattara, is prevented from running. Amid considerable confusion, Gbagbo is proclaimed winner of the election, and takes over as president.
– 2002: A rebellion breaks out among troops from the north, resulting in the country being cut in two. Gbagbo holds onto power in the south, while French troops, based in the country under a defence agreement, act to separate the belligerents.
– 2003: Government and rebels sign peace accords in the French town of Marcoussis. Rebels and the political opposition join a transition government and the president cedes some power to a prime minister of national reconciliation.
– 2004: Despite the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force, armed conflict resumes with government air raids on rebel-held zones. The violence results in a wave of anti-French demonstrations.
– 2005: The UN Security Council agrees to allow Gbagbo to stay on provisionally as president without holding elections, even though his term in power has ended.
– 2007: After more peace talks, Gbagbo agrees to appoint a leader of the northern rebels as his prime minister.
– October-November 2010: Presidential elections are finally held, after being postponed no fewer than six times since Gbagbo\’s term expired in 2005.
After the vote, the electoral council announces that Ouattara won 54 percent of the vote against 46 percent for Gbagbo, but the latter refuses to give up power, claiming electoral fraud in the north.
The United Nations, Western countries and the main west African regional body endorse Ouattara\’s victory.
– December 2010: Ouattara\’s headquarters in a lagoon-front hotel in the main city of Abidjan, becomes a camp under siege, protected by UN troops from attacks by Gbagbo\’s supporters, who include the armed forces.
– March 2011: Ouattara\’s forces launch a vast offensive, taking control of most of the country with the exception of Gbagbo\’s stronghold in Abidjan.
– April 4: French and UN soldiers engage in operations in Abidjan aimed at preventing the use of heavy weapons in what has become a civil war.
– April 9: Human Rights Watch says forces loyal to Ouattara, as well as those supporting Gbagbo, have committed massacres.
– Monday, April 11: After fierce fighting around his residence, which is bombarded by French forces, Gbagbo is captured.
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