|Por-Ouattara ambassador to Paris Ally Coulibaly|
Laurent Gbagbo is "negotiating his surrender", Ally Coulibaly, the ambassador to France appointed by his rival for the Côte d’Ivoire’s presidency, Alassane Ouattara, told RFI Tuesday.
"I believe Laurent Gbagbo is alive,” he said Tuesday. “I have learned that he is negotiating his surrender."
Admitting that "Abidjan has become a rumour mill”, Coulibaly insisted that Gbagbo has been “seeking to negotiate” since Monday.
Coulibaly, who is a close advisor to the internationally recognised president, said he did not know through what channels Gbagbo was negotiating or whether a mediator was involved.
But he said, “It is not too late."
Heavy weapons fire was heard in the economic capital, Abidjan, Tuesday, as Ouattara’s forces pursued their offensive against Gbagbo loyalists. They were reported to be trying to enter the gendarmerie camp in the northern district of Cocody.
Late Monday French and UN forces targeted Gbabgo strongholds in a joint mission to knock out his heavy weaponry.
Two French citizens were reported to be among a group of foreigners kidnapped by armed men at the Abidjan Novotel.
A senior Ouattara official said the final showdown with Gbagbo would end within hours.
"The final assault for the total capture of the residence and the palace will take place in the coming hours. The operation is expected to finish tonight," said Sidiki Konaté, the spokesperson for Ouattara's prime minister Guillaume Soro.
On Monday US President Barack Obama urged Gbagbo to respect the will of his people and "end his claim to the presidency."
A French gendarme who was guarding the residence of Paris's ambassador to Côte d'Ivoire has been wounded in the leg by shrapnel