6 Apr 2011

Ivory Coast president 'negotiating surrender'

6:27 am on 6 April 2011

Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo is negotiating the terms of his departure from power following attacks by forces loyal to his rival, backed by UN and French helicopter airstrikes.

Troops loyal to the internationally-recognised winner of last year's election Alassane Ouattara, have Mr Gbagbo surrounded in the presidential compound in the city of Abidjan.

The United Nations says three generals loyal to Mr Gbagbo are negotiating terms for his surrender.

Mr Gbagbo had refused to cede power despite United Nations-approved results saying that Mr Ouattara won an election in November last year.

A spokesman for the president said the talks covered security guarantees for Mr Gbagbo and his relatives, Reuters reports.

France says the negotiations are on the brink of agreeing his departure and, as a condition, the international community is pushing for the president to sign a document handing power to Alassane Ouattara.

Ivorian foreign minister Alcide Djedje says a ceasefire has already been agreed.

The United States government has called on Laurent Gbagbo to leave office immediately.