ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) _ Junta leader Gen. Robert Guei fled on Wednesday, as many of his security forces turned against him and joined thousands of demonstrators swarming the streets to protest his claim to have won presidential elections, soldiers said.

Laurent Gbagbo, the opposition leader who also claimed to have won Sunday's presidential vote, addressed hundreds of cheering supporters outside his campaign headquarters in suburban Abidjan.

He thanked them for opposing what he called Guei's ``electoral coup d'etat.''

``I thank you for responding massively to this appeal. You went out in the hundreds of thousands. I pay particular homage to those who died in the cause of this. We will give them a funeral befitting their courage,'' he said.

The crowd cheered when truckloads of pro-Gbagbo police and military drove into the compound.