Fighting is now being reported in Abidjan, the biggest city in the Ivory Coast and where ex-ruler Gbagbo is holed up.
BBC: Ivory Coast: 'Heavy fighting' near Gbagbo residence
Hamadoun Toure, spokesman for the UN's special representative for Ivory Coast: ''The countdown has started'' There has been heavy fighting in Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, between forces loyal to the UN-recognised president, Alassane Ouattara, and supporters of incumbent Laurent Gbagbo.
Witnesses have reported hearing intense gunfire near Mr Gbagbo's residence, while Mr Ouattara's supporters say they have taken control of state television. His government earlier closed Ivory Coast's borders and declared a curfew. Mr Gbagbo has refused to relinquish the presidency since November's election.
But the national army has put up almost no resistance since Mr Ouattara's supporters launched an offensive on Monday. Pro-Ouattara forces reportedly now control about 80% of the country
With the turmoil continuing in the Ivory Coast because ousted ruler, Gbagbo will not give up his seat of power after he was defeated in a fair election, neighboring Liberia is entering into the madness on tow fronts.
Adding to Liberia's already mounting problems, is the flow of Liberian mercenaries into the Ivory Coast and the flow of more than 100,000 Ivory Coast refugees into Liberia. “It’s a serious threat to the stability of Liberia and, I might say, to the stability of all neighboring countries,” said Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in an interview. “There’s been a lot of investment for peace in this sub-region; we’re beginning to see the result of that investment,” she added. “If nothing is done to resolve the crisis, all of these efforts will be undermined.”
The mercenaries are fighting on behalf of the Ivory Coast's entrenched leader Laurent Gbagbo— not recognized by the United Nations—as rebels in the north of the country battle for control. “According to what we hear, both sides are recruiting Liberian mercenaries,” said Harrison S. Karnwea Sr., Liberia’s interior minister. “When people have been used to living on violence, they have got no profession to earn their living on.” On Thursday, fighting had escalated in the Ivory Coast capital city of Abidjan where forces loyal to Gbagbo clashed with forces in support of U.N.-recognized president Alassane Quattara.
So we have Ivory Coast people fleeing into Liberia by the thousands to escape any violence from the two clashing forces which is a huge problem for the country of Liberia, who can barely sustain their own people.
“Gbagbo’s troops are composed of the Ivorian Army, the Liberian mercenaries and the militia,” he said recently, pointing to a carefully folded map. “We want to cut off the mercenary flow into Côte d’Ivoire.”
But the traffic at the border moved in two directions. As General Michel’s troops gained ground, a tide of refugees escaping the crisis crossed the porous and remote border into Liberia, a country with a fragile grip on stability itself.
According to the United Nations, more than 100,000 people have fled to Liberia, an exodus visible in the women with bundles on their heads and babies on their backs, trudging on or sitting exhausted by trail sides. And as the struggle over Ivory Coast spills beyond its borders, many fear it will rattle a region still trying to recover from its own history of civil war.
“It’s a serious threat to the stability of Liberia and, I might say, to the stability of all neighboring countries,” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia said in an interview.
“There’s been a lot of investment for peace in this subregion; we’re beginning to see the result of that investment,” she added. “If nothing is done to resolve the crisis, all of these efforts will be undermined.”
The US is publicly staying pretty quiet on American TV about this conflict so far even if they are working the back channels as I was told by Ben Rhodes on our blogger call, but so why can't we at the very least help lead an international charge to get relief aid to Liberia since the "humanitarian" level is quite extreme?
Labour has warned the humanitarian situation in Ivory Coast is becoming "desperate" amid violence sparked by its disputed presidential election.
They have urged ministers to step up international efforts to get aid to the thousands of people displaced and forced to flee to neighbouring Liberia.
The UN has called for an immediate end to violence in the West African state.