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Ivory Coast's Ouattara Seeks Close Ties with Senegal


Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara (L) and Senegalese counterpart Abdoulaye Wade listen to a question during a joint press conference in Dakar, May 13, 2011

Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara (L) and Senegalese counterpart Abdoulaye Wade listen to a question during a joint press conference in Dakar, May 13, 2011

Sworn in as president just last week, Mr. Ouattara now sits at the helm of a deeply divided country still reeling from waves of post-electoral violence that killed at least 3,000 people and displaced more than a million.

In the Senegalese capital Friday, Mr. Ouattara vowed to launch investigations into all war crimes reported since the disputed November election, including those committed by forces loyal to him.

Mr. Ouattara says his wish, his conviction, is to work to bring an end to impunity in Ivory Coast. No one is above the law, he says, and killers will be punished. The law is clear, he says, and there will be no exceptions.

Former president Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power after losing a November presidential poll, according to U.N.-certified results.

In April, forces loyal to Mr. Ouattara swept through western Ivory Coast to the commercial capital, Abidjan, where they captured Mr. Gbagbo, who remains under house arrest in northern Ivory Coast.

Forces loyal to both men have been accused of atrocities and human rights abuses since the crisis began.

Mr. Ouattara has named a former prime minister to the head of a truth and reconciliation commission aimed at addressing abuses and healing divisions.

It is time, he said, for Ivorians to turn the page.

Mr. Ouattara says he is the elected president of all Ivorians, and his job is to work to reunite Ivorians and build this reconciliation. It is not an easy task after what we have all been through, he says, but there is a common will to emerge from this situation and not repeat past mistakes.

Mr. Ouattara spoke in Dakar after meetings with fellow economist and long-time friend, Senegalese president Abdoulaye Wade, whom he referred to as "a big brother."

Mr. Wade said the visit was one of "work and friendship" that marked the beginning of increased cooperation between the two nations.

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