30 Mar 2011

Embatted Ivory Coast president calls for ceasefire

4:46 pm on 30 March 2011

Embattled Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to step down after an election defeat last year, has appealed for an immediate ceasefire in the face of advances by opposition forces.

Mr Gbagbo's spokesperson called for talks mediated by the African Union with the president-elect, Alassane Ouattara, saying: "We hope that dialogue will open very shortly. It is useless to head into conflict and increase the number of victims."

The spokesperson also says the army has adopted a strategy of tactical withdrawal but could yet use its "legitimate right of defence".

Mr Gbagbo refuses to stand down despite the United Nations saying he lost November's poll.

About a million people have fled the violence that has since flared, and at least 462 people have been killed since December, according to the UN.