ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — Tens of thousands of Ivorians backed by paramilitary police and dissident troops drove the military ruler, Gen. Robert Guei, from power Wednesday, permitting a return to civilian rule in this influential nation in West Africa. It remained uncertain whether a stable, new government might be formed.
Crowds of Abidjan residents angry at the general's attempt to steal Sunday's presidential elections fought for a second day with troops loyal to Guei. The battle turned when key army units and the paramilitary gendarme force defected to the opposition, recognizing veteran opposition politician Laurent Gbagbo as the elected president.
As key members of his government announced their resignations, Guei fled the presidential palace in a helicopter, diplomats said. His location was unknown.
Guei's overthrow offered the country its first chance to end a 10-month slide into violence and economic collapse. Long the most stable, prosperous nation in West Africa, Ivory Coast was stunned last December when soldiers mounted the first coup d'etat in the country's history and installed Guei.
Analysts and political leaders here said it was the first time in their memory that Africans had overturned a fraudulent election by marching in the streets.