News / Africa

Ivorians Split on Former First Lady's Extradition

Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone during the swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Abidjan (File)Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone during the swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Abidjan (File)
Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone during the swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Abidjan (File)
Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo and his wife Simone during the swearing-in ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Abidjan (File)
The International Criminal Court has unsealed an arrest warrant for former Ivory Coast First Lady Simone Gbagbo for alleged crimes against humanity during post-election violence.  However, it's unclear whether the Ouattara government will extradite her to the Hague, and Ivorians are divided on whether she should instead be tried home.

Ivorian prosecutors were already preparing a case against Mrs. Gbagbo before the ICC indictment was made public Thursday. A spokesman for the prosecution said last week that the former first lady would soon be tried on charges of genocide, blood crimes and economic crimes in connection with the post-election violence.

The conflict erupted when former President Laurent Gbagbo refused to leave office after losing a November 2010 presidential runoff to now current president Alassane Ouattara. More than 3,000 people died during the six-month crisis.

Laurent Gbagbo was transferred to the Hague last November, becoming the first former head of state to be taken into the court’s custody. Simone Gbagbo has been living under house arrest in the northwestern town of Odienne since April 2011 when opposition forces, backed by French and UN troops, captured her and her husband.

The ICC warrant was reportedly issued February 29 but then sealed. The warrant says the former first lady helped plan and order attacks against political rivals.

Joachim Boloo lives in Yopougon, a pro-Gbagbo stronghold in Abidjan. Despite being a Gbagbo supporter, he is not against ICC intervention. He said he thinks Simone Gbagbo has a better chance of fair treatment abroad.

"I prefer her being in prison there than here in the bush whereby nobody knows where she’s kept, what people are doing on her. If she’s deported to the International Criminal Court - anyway she’s already in prison. So it’s better for her to be in prison in good conditions than in prison in the hands of people that you don’t know. And if the trial could be fair, there’s no problem," said Boloo.

Critics accuse the Ouattara government of victor’s justice. Both sides allegedly committed serious crimes during the crisis, however authorities have so far only detained and tried members of the Gbagbo camp.

Experts say imbalanced justice and perceived impunity for pro-Ouattara forces are undermining reconciliation and fueling insecurity.

Diabate Sekou, a clothing vendor in Yopougon, said Ivorians need to be patient.

He says Ivorian courts can do a thorough job so long as they were given enough time. He says he’s sure that some pro-Ouattara fighters were involved in the violence, and if that is made clear then President Ouattara himself will condemn this. But you need to let justice do its work.

However, others in Yopougon said trials will problematic no matter where they’re held.

Mory Sanogo, 30, says trials reinforce political divisions by making everyone relive the awful details of the conflict.

He says this arrest warrant is not a good thing because we are in the context of national reconciliation, and when we talk about national reconciliation we need to forget the past and go forward.

Simone Gbagbo is the first woman to be indicted by the International Criminal Court.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs