News / Africa

Gbagbo Supporters Have Mixed Views of Hague Hearing

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo attends a confirmation of charges hearing in his pre-trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, February 19, 2013.
Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo attends a confirmation of charges hearing in his pre-trial at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, February 19, 2013.
The International Criminal Court began the confirmation-of-charges hearing for former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo on Tuesday. Back home, his more hardline supporters insist he should be freed, while others say they only wish that the justice process be fair and impartial.

Ivory Coast’s 2010-11 post-election violence erupted after former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to leave office despite losing the 2010 vote to his successor, Alassane Ouattara. According to the United Nations, more than 3,000 people died in six months of fighting.

Gbagbo was transferred to The Hague in November, 2011, on charges of crimes against humanity, including murder, rape, persecution and inhuman acts. The hearing beginning this week will allow judges to decide whether the evidence is strong enough to send him to trial.

Doubt about fair trial

In Yopougon, a suburb of the commercial capital, Abidjan, and a Gbagbo stronghold during the crisis, residents largely went about their daily lives as the hearing began on Tuesday.  But, they made clear they had doubts about whether the former president would be treated fairly.

Alain Bayoro, a second-year business management student, says national reconciliation would be impossible with Gbagbo behind bars. He says it's impossible to reconcile the Ivorian population as long as Gbagbo is on trial.  He wants President Ouattara to see that he is freed. 

But Mabi Zagboyou, a 30-year-old bread maker, says the main problem is that justice for crimes committed during the post-election violence has been one-sided. The ICC has publicly unsealed arrest warrants only for Laurent Gbagbo and his wife, Simone. At the national level, only Gbagbo supporters have been investigated, arrested and charged, despite widespread evidence that crimes were committed on both sides.

He warns that "impunity will lead to the repetition of these crimes."  He says Gbagbo is not the only one who committed crimes after the election.  He wants others brought up charges, as well.

Country still divided

Scott Straus, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin who has studied the conflict in Ivory Coast, says Ouattara would struggle to win over hardline members of Gbagbo’s political party, the Ivorian Popular Front. But, he says one-sided justice might also alienate more moderate supporters like Zagboyou.

"I think Ouattara’s audience for a more even-handed approach to justice is the large Ivorian middle, the Ivorians who want to see a real break from the policies and the politics of the past and want a fairer, more transparent approach to some of these political problems that have beset the country for the last 15 years. I do think there’s a large middle in Cote d’Ivoire that is persuadable and that he risks losing," said Straus.

The confirmation hearing is expected to last several days, with Gbagbo speaking on the last day.

You May Like

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Paulo
February 21, 2013 10:12 AM
Ironic that others in Southern Africa responsible for 20,000 lives have escaped the attention of the Hague - How can this be?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid