French To Hand Airport Back To Ivorian Forces

French soldiers backing the U.N. mission in Ivory Coast had taken the airport during heavy combat in Abidjan between fighters loyal to Laurent Gbagbo and those loyal to internationally backed President Alassane Ouattara.

Gbagbo was arrested last week.

“Essentially, tomorrow we will return control of the airport installations, which were in our control for reasons of security, back to Ivorian authorities,” Commander Frederic Daguillon, spokesman for the French Licorne force, said.

Ouattara’s government has said it is also hoping for a restart of port operations and banking activity in the coming days as authorities seek to revive the war-shattered economy — once French West Africa’s brightest.

Ivory Coast is the world’s top grower of cocoa and one of a handful of sub-Saharan African countries with a Eurobond.

Gbagbo, who had led the nation since 2000, refused to cede power after losing a November election to Ouattara, sparking a power struggle that killed more than 1,500 people and displaced more than a million.