Like President Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Gbagbo has refused to cede power to president-elect Alassance Ouattara who won the November 28 runoff election according to international observers and results declared by the country’s electoral commission.
In 2008 Zimbabwean elections President Mugabe lost an election to his longtime rival Morgan Tsvangirai but the country’s electoral body which was run by retired military officers loyal to the 86 year old dictator refused to release the results for three months and in a violent Presidential run-off Tsvangirai withdrew from the race and a South African backed negotiated coalition government which saw Mugabe retaining all his power as the undisputed leader.
According to reports from highly placed military sources in Harare, President Mugabe is said to have dispatched troops from his crack Commando Special Forces and Presidential Guard in a secret mission in response to a request by the Ivorian leader Laurent Gbagbo.
Our source said the operation has since attracted the backing of the Chinese government and Libyan leader Mammur Gadaffi.
Last night, a senior army officer in the Zimbabwe National Army whose identity cannot be revealed for fear of his safety told The Zimbabwe Mail reporter that, on Christmas Eve, under heavy security, a chartered Russian Aircraft Antonov-AN 22 took off from Harare International Airport to Ivory Coast’s capital, Abidjan.
On board the aircraft were heavily armed members of Robert Mugabe’s Presidential Guard and the Commando Regiment (part of the Special Forces of Zimbabwe National Army)
The aircraft briefly stopped in Angola for refueling before landing in Democratic Republic of Congo’s N’djili airport (Kinshasa’s main airport) where it picked up some members of the DRC’s Presidential Guard.
President Mugabe and his Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) counterpart President Joseph Kabila both share the same Presidential Guards.
A detachment of the Zimbabwean Presidential Guard still provides close security for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President, Joseph Kabila.
The detachment is under the command of Zimbabwean National Army’s Lt. Colonel Richard Sauta, a 5th dan Tai Kwando expert and formerly the Guard’s unarmed combat trainer.
Sauta is known to have spent several years in North Korea, and has several medals in the sport of Tai Kwando. He has also trained Robert Mugabe’s Chief spokesman George Charamba in Tai Kwando arts which has enabled him to double up as bodygaurd and spokesman.
Our source revealed that Lt. Colonel Richard Sauta is now leading a strong force of battle hardened Zimbabwean and DRC military officers of the Great Lakes Tusti-Hutu conflict who are now protecting Ivory Coast’s losing candidate Laurent Gbagbo ahead of solution which would see Gbagbo retained as leader of one the best Cocoa producing countries in the World.
Robert Mugabe is not a stranger in deploying troops into African conflicts, and it all started late in the 80s when Zimbabwe got embroiled in the Mozambican civil war.
In 1998, Zimbabwean commandos defended DRC’s capital Kinshasa at the last minute when it was on the brink of falling to rebels to invading Ugandan and Rwandan army units.
The Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) became heavily involved in the war in Mozambique, chiefly to protect the oil pipeline and transportation routes through Mozambique from RENAMO insurgents.
During the Somalia Civil War of 1992-1995, the United Nations intervention, UN Security Council Resolution 733 and UN Security Council Resolution 746 which led to the creation of UNOSOM I, the first mission to provide humanitarian relief and help restore order in Somalia after the dissolution of its central government, Robert Mugabe did not miss the opportunity for his army to be involved again.
International wire reports monitored in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA on Monday say "hire for pay" fighters and "arms dealers" have been circulating in and around the Ivorian capital and neighbouring countries and "looking for work."
It appears that foreign mercenaries have begun making their way to the West African nation of La Cote d’Ivoire and this could spell an intractable situation with both Presidential contenders laying claim to the Presidency of the country.
The intelligence reports of this development have prompted the neighbouring Liberian Government to warn former rebels from its own conflict to stay out of the Ivorian conflict.
A spokesperson for the internationally recognized winner of the Ivorian elections is accusing Liberian and Angolan mercenaries of being responsible for the deaths of scores of supporters of Mr. Alassanne Ouattarra in and around the capital of Abidjan.
According to the Ouattarra camp spokesperson, she alleged that the militias, allegedly recruited from Liberia and Angola, can be seen all around Abidjan.
"People see them everywhere. They speak English; they can’t speak French. When they speak we recognize that they are from Liberia and from Angola. Everybody can see them everywhere in Abidjan…"
This claim has not been independently verified.