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Ivorian Opposition Says President Shielding Supporters From ICC

  • James Butty

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara speaks during his inauguration ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Nov. 3, 2015.

Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara speaks during his inauguration ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Nov. 3, 2015.

Members of the political opposition in Ivory Coast are accusing President Alassane Ouattara of trying to protect his supporters from being prosecuted by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Ouattara’s predecessor, Laurent Gbagbo and his former youth minister Charles Ble Goude, are currently on trial at the ICC for their alleged roles in the 2010 post-election violence that devastated the country.

More than 3,000 people were killed in five months of unrest, after Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Ouattara.

None of Ouattara's supporters have so far been charged by the ICC, prompting accusations by Gbagbo's camp of "victor's justice."

Amnesty International said this month the ICC should hold all those who committed crimes accountable, including Ouattara’s supporters.

“While Gbagbo and his former minister of youth Charles Ble Goude earned being tried, it’s important that national and international courts look at the suspected perpetrators of violence and other crimes committed during the martial law of the President Ouattara side to make sure that justice is even-handed,” said Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty's deputy regional director for West and Central Africa.

International demands

But Boubacar Kone, interim spokesman of the opposition Ivorian Popular Front Party, said President Ouattara is trying to neutralize mounting international demands for some of his supporters to also be prosecuted by the ICC.

“My understanding is that Mr. Ouattara doesn’t want reconciliation and that he is just simply trying to protect his own people from being prosecuted by the ICC because people around the world have been critical about the ICC being unfair because they are investigating only one side of the conflict," said Kone.

During a meeting with French President Francois Hollande in Paris Thursday, Ouattara reportedly said he will not send any more Ivorians to the ICC because there’s now “an operational justice system” in Ivory Coast.

But Kone said it’s one thing to say a justice system is working. It’s another for it to be fair.

“The judicial system in our country is very unfair, and we don’t have the sign of true reconciliation there. He’s just trying to hide his people from being judged fairly. To tell you the truth, his people are in power and he is trying to protect them,” Kone said.

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