President Barack Obama on Monday welcomed the arrest of Ivory Coast's former president, Laurent Gbagbo, saying the development represented a victory for the democratic will of the Ivorian people.
"Today, the people of Cote d'Ivoire have the chance to begin to reclaim their country, solidify their democracy and rebuild a vibrant economy that taps the extraordinary potential of the Ivoirian people," Obama said in a statement.
The U.S., along with the international community, has recognized Alassane Ouattara as the elected president of Ivory Coast following elections four months ago. Gbagbo, however, clung to power and was finally arrested after forces stormed the bunker where he had been hiding.
Forces backing Ouattara began a rapid offensive to oust Gbagbo last month, and his arrest came after days of heavy fighting. Obama praised United Nations and French forces for their efforts to protect civilians.
The hard work of reconciliation and rebuilding must begin now, Obama said. He called on militia groups to refrain from further violence and on Ouattara to govern on behalf of all Ivorians, not just those who voted for him.
Obama said the United States would always be a friend of a democratic Ivory Coast that respects the rights of its people.