Updated from 10:13 a.m. EDT.
NEW YORK (
) -- Ivory Coast's incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo remained defiant on Tuesday as forces loyal to President-elect Alassane Ouattara tried to coax him out of a bunker at the presidential palace, according to reports.
A U.N. peacekeeper from Jordan Battalion reloads his weapon as he returns fire on troops supporting Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo during a patrol in the streets of Abidjan, Ivory Coast.
Four months ago, Gbagbo lost the presidential election to Ouattara but he has since refused to cede power.
Gbagbo insists that he won the election and refuses to negotiate departure terms, despite earlier reports that claimed Ivory Coast's foreign minister was discussing his ouster terms, as well as terms of a cease-fire, after French and U.N. forces launched a military offensive on his military bases.
"I won the election and I am not negotiating my departure," Gbagbo told France's
television by telephone on Tuesday,
The Associated Press
The United Nations and French troops opened fire with attack helicopters on Gbagbo's camps on Monday as Gbagbo continued to resist international pressure to step down.
"One might think that we are getting to the end of the crisis," Hamadoun Toure, spokesman for the U.N. mission to Ivory Coast said by phone, the
reported. "We spoke to his close aides, some had already defected, some are ready to stop fighting. He is alone now, he is in his bunker with a handful of supporters and family members. So is he going to last or not? I don't know."
French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said the main goal of the U.N.-led mission was to destroy heavy weapons that threatened the lives of civilians in the West African nation,
"France's intervention has no other aim than to help the UNOCI to neutralize heavy weapons of Laurent Gbagbo's forces," Valero said at a news briefing, using the UNOCI acronym to refer to the U.N. operation in Ivory Coast. "The intervention will finish as soon as UNOCI has fulfilled that aim, which has been fixed by resolution 1975."
Fighters loyal to Ouattara launched a campaign to oust Gbagbo and have taken nearly the entire countryside in the past three days,
The Associated Press
reported, sparking widespread unrest in the nation.
U.S. President Barack Obama said he supports the presence of the United Nations and French forces in Ivory Coast, which also known by its French name, Cote d'Ivoire.
"To end this violence and prevent more bloodshed, former President Gbagbo must stand down immediately, and direct those who are fighting on his behalf to lay down their arms," Obama said in a statement. "Every day that the fighting persists will bring more suffering, and further delay the future of peace and prosperity that the people of Cote d'Ivoire deserve."
Alcide Djedje, Gbagbo's foreign minister, said Tuesday he was negotiating the terms of a cease-fire after several days of heavy clashes in Abidjan,
"I'm at the residence of the French ambassador to negotiate a cease-fire," Djedje said in an interview aired on
Radio France International
However, he could not confirm whether Gbagbo would negotiate his departure.
"That is another stage that I am not in charge of. We have to wait for the coming hours on that. I had a mandate to negotiate
a cease-fire," Djedje said, according to
. "Now we have to wait."
More than 1,500 people have died in the clashes between Ouattara and Gbagbo supporters,
reported. The International Committee of the Red Cross reported that between 800 and 1,000 people were killed last week in the western town of Duekoue.
Written by Theresa McCabe in Boston
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