Ivory coast’s army chief Phillippe Mangou on run seeking refugee

Ivory coast's army chief Phillippe Mangou

Ivory coast's army chief Phillippe Mangou

By Nangayi Guyson (31-03-2011)-Abidjan- Ivory coast’s army chief Phillippe Mangou  is said to  have  sought refuge at the home of South Africa’s ambassador in Abidjan, South Africa’s foreign ministry says.

A statement early on Thursday said that army Chief was accompanied by his wife and children to South Africa’s ambassador residence in the capital Abidjan.

The news came as  forces backing Ivory Coast’s  UN recognized president Alassane Ouattara were reported to have captured key cities on Wednesday and  has warned his rival Laurent Gbagbo they would march on his stronghold, Abidjan, within hours.

Mr Gbagbo continues to cling to power in Abidjan, despite the UN saying he lost November’s poll.

In New York meanwhile, the UN Security Council unanimously backed sanctions against Gbagbo over his refusal to step down from power.

According to BBC,  President Gbagbo still controls only the city of  Abidjan.

On Wednesday, pro-Ouattara forces captured Yamoussoukro, 240km (150 miles) north of Abidjan, and Mr Gbagbo’s home town of Gagnoa has also fallen.

Ouattara’s camp, weary of four months of fruitless diplomatic initiatives, declared all peaceful solutions “exhausted” as they launched their offensive on Monday.

By Wednesday evening, Ouattara’s Prime Minister Guillaume Soro was telling France24: “Gbagbo has only a few hours to leave, otherwise we will march on Abidjan and it will become a lot more complicated for him”.

After a day of heavy losses, Gbagbo had been due to make a highly anticipated speech – promised more than two weeks ago – on state television RTI on Wednesday.

Just hours after it had been announced however, his spokesperson Ahoua Don Mello appeared briefly on television to say Gbagbo, who was following the situation in the country closely had postponed his address.

One million people have fled the violence – mostly from Abidjan – and at least 473 people have been killed since December, according to the UN.