There are mixed reactions to Monday’s arrest of the former Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo within the refugee community in Liberia. A joint operation by pro-Ouattara forces, the UN and French military captured Laurent Gbagbo from his official residence, where he had been under siege for more than a week.
The New Dawn Correspondent Johnson Sharty in the Southeast of Liberia says most of the refugees from the west, central and eastern regions of Cote d’Ivoire are accusing France of trying to recolonize their country. Johnson quoted the refugees as saying that they were refusing to return home after the arrest and detention of Gbagbo because they believe the conflict was far from over.
They complained about the beating of President Gbagbo’s son, Michel, and other Gbagbo supporters by pro-Ouattara forces, as screened by a French TV. They also accused the News forces of reprisal killings and absence of any police on the streets of Abidjan and other parts of the country to stop such reprisals against Gbagbo supporters.
They said the conflict in their country goes beyond elections, pointing out the issue of Ivoirite (who is real Ivoirian) between the Christian-dominated west, central and east, and Muslim- dominated north. They also expressed the belief that the former president is an influence figure in Ivoirian society who since 1971, has been the lone voice (opposition) to have broken the country’s one party system.
Other refugees also welcomed the news saying that though their sufferings were over, they were still worried about returning home. They said the refusal of the former president to accept defeat in the last 28 November run-off, prompted the severe violence causing them deaths and destructions.
They noted that if Gbagbo knew he did not have the capacity to continue the conflict, he should not have allowed it to have dragged on. They are even predicting violence among the various tribes.