Gbagbo had been holed up in his residence, refusing to cede power to Alassane Ouattara, who won the country’s presidential elections in November. Now that he’s in custody, there is hope his followers will surrender. However, a question looms over the arrest: Who took him into custody? Initial reports stated that French troops had captured him, but France denies that, saying troops loyal to Ouattara had captured him.(The Atlantic has a good breakdown of the conflicting reports here.)
“The dispute over who arrested him matters because ... if Mr. Ouattara’s people arrested him, fine, he’s the president of the country ... but if it were French forces, Paris will be accused of neo-Colonialism and Mr. Ouattara will be accused of being a puppet of the outside world,” the BBC reports.
Though it is unclear whether the French did or did not arrest him, it is clear the French have been instrumental in attacking the residence of Gbagbo. It goes to show how much France has moved away from its 2003 emphasis on diplomacy and toward pushing for swift military action in the Ivory Coast and in Libya.
“With his call for military action against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, his recognition of the rebels and his readiness to arm them, Mr. Sarkozy has looked every inch the swaggering world leader, less a latter-day Charles de Gaulle than a Gallic Ronald Reagan,” Mark Landler wrote in this Sunday’s New York Times.