Two generals close to Laurent Gbagbo were Tuesday holding talks to work out the conditions under which he could surrender, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon said. UN officials confirm that Gbagbo is ready to throw in the towel.
Foreign Affairs Minister Alain Juppé confirmed that negotiations were taking place to end Gbagbo's attempt to hang on to Côte d'Ivoire's presidency, despite international recognition of his rival, Alassane Ouattara.
"We hope that the fighting will end as quickly as possible," he said.
Gbagbo's Chief of Staff, General Philippe Mangou, has declared that his troops have stopped fighting and demanded a ceasefire with the UN force in the country (Unoci).
The terms should guarantee the safety of troops, civilians, Gbagbo and his family, he said.
"We demand that Unoci ensures that there is no pillaging or witch-hunts," he added.
The UN mission confirmed that Gbagbo is sheltering in the presidetial palace and calling for a ceasefire.
"We are witnessing new developments on the political front in Abidjan," a statement said. Mr Gbagbo's closest advisers, both military and civilian, are leaving him while, with a handful of persons, he is known to have retreated to the basement bunker of the presidential residence," read a statement from Unoci.
It called on the Special Forces which continue fighting in some areas of Abidjan, especially around the presidential palace in Plateau and the presidential residence in Cocody, "to lay down their arms with a view to preserving the life of the civilian population as well as their own life".