Strongman Out, Ivory Coast Is Reviving

Ivory Coast — Fresh produce appeared on market stalls. Women carried sacks of grain on their heads. Children skipped rope in the street. Men sipped coffee in outdoor cafes.

Life began inching back to normal on Wednesday in this city battered by a week of combat, months of economic collapse and the grip of a defeated ruler who refused to step down.

Two days after opposition forces stormed the presidential residence and seized the nation’s strongman, Laurent Gbagbo, residents ventured through a landscape of burned-out vehicles from last week’s combat, shattered glass from waves of looting, fields of uncollected garbage abandoned for months and occasional bursts of gunfire. The central business district, Plateau, continued to be largely empty, gripped by armed looting, a resident said, and with snipers in the tall buildings.

Signs of renewal elsewhere in this sprawling port city were unmistakable. In places, the tension of previous months, when fear of Mr. Gbagbo’s security forces kept streets emptied, was gone. The ubiquitous roadblocks operated by militant armed youths supporting Mr. Gbagbo had disappeared, replaced by occasional gun-swinging detachments from the irregular forces of Alassane Ouattara, the man who won the election last year but is only now taking over as president. They let people through, though.

In some neighborhoods, residents expressed hope and relief that the five-month crisis was now over, and Mr. Ouattara told reporters at his makeshift hotel-headquarters here that he would get immediately to work restoring the country. Still, Mr. Ouattara acknowledged the delicate security situation, the looting by gunmen and the need to hold all combatants accountable for human rights abuses, including his own men.

New York Times