News / Africa

    Ivory Coast Struggles With Reconciliation Deepen

    A soldier from the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) stands guard before the arrival of Ivory Coast's President in Duekoue on April 23, 2012. President Alassane Ouattara vowed that all those behind killings during Ivory Coast's post-poll c
    A soldier from the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI) stands guard before the arrival of Ivory Coast's President in Duekoue on April 23, 2012. President Alassane Ouattara vowed that all those behind killings during Ivory Coast's post-poll c
    Nico Colombant
    Human rights researchers and exiled opposition activists say the post-civil war government in Ivory Coast is doing too little for reconciliation. They also say a victor’s type of justice and unruly security forces are dangerously deepening an existing political divide.  

    More than a hundred Ivorians previously close to former President Laurent Gbagbo, including family members, are being detained in Ivory Coast.  

    They face charges ranging from economic crimes to orchestrating violence in the aftermath of the 2010 presidential election. And their numbers keep growing.

    On state television earlier this week, Interior Minister Hamed Bakayoko read documents he said had been seized from Captain Seka Yapo Anselme while he was allegedly going from Ghana to Guinea to recruit mercenaries.

    The former Gbagbo security aide was shown shirtless with a passport in each hand.

    Bakayoko said authorities had foiled a plot to overthrow the government and promised more arrests.  

    This closely followed the arrest of a key former ally of Mr. Gbagbo who had been living in Togo, Moise Lida Kouassi, as well as a deadly attack by an armed band on civilians and United Nations peacekeepers near the Liberian border.

    Ivorian authorities are seeking cooperation from several West African countries, including Liberia, where wanted former allies of Mr. Gbagbo are believed to be hiding.

    Mr. Gbagbo, himself, was detained for eight months in northern Ivory Coast, before being handed over to the International Criminal Court in The Hague last year. The former leader now awaits an August hearing on whether he should face charges of crimes against humanity.

    In this context, a former spokesman for Mr. Gbagbo, Alain Toussaint, said he would be crazy to return to his country. Speaking to VOA on a recent visit to Washington, he said he does not have a suicidal soul.

    “I want to be able to have freedom of movement, freedom of expression and freedom of thought without the risk of taking a bullet.”

    Mr. Gbagbo’s former party, the Ivorian Popular Front, has boycotted post-crisis legislative elections as well as reconciliation meetings.

    Party leaders who have not been detained say they are being harassed and brutalized with impunity by security forces.  They deny accusations Gbagbo allies were behind the June 8 attack near the town of Tai, blaming it instead on alleged mercenaries from Burkina Faso.

    President Alassane Ouattara, who came to power after being declared the winner in the disputed election, has made repeated promises he would seek both reconciliation and justice.  

    But a pro-Ouattara soldier has yet to be arrested and planned reconciliation forums have been slow to get started.

    Pro-Ouattara rebels committed atrocities during their control of northern Ivory Coast during the Gbagbo presidency, but their members have also yet to face charges.

    Matt Wells, from U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, is worried about the imbalance.

    “There is the sense that the justice system is not credible and really the loss of rule of law in Cote d’Ivoire has underpinned the last decade of violence and so restoring the rule of law is crucial and will only happen when the Ouattara government shows that its own side is not above the law,” he said.

    One specific area of concern has been the ethnically-tense western town of Duekoue, where abuses by security forces against civilians continue. In the worst instance, in March 2011, hundreds of civilians were killed when pro-Ouattara northern-based forces made a decisive assault on Mr. Gbagbo’s remaining positions.

    London-based Amnesty International has called for a review of national Ivorian criminal law to ensure that it can prosecute crimes against humanity and war crimes effectively before national courts. Its research indicates the Duekoue killings were part of widespread attacks on civilians by both pro-Gbagbo and pro-Ouattara forces.

    Rather than more arrests, Toussaint says he would like to see sincere dialogue between the government and Gbagbo supporters, as well as the immediate release of those who did nothing wrong.

    “Peace in Ivory Coast is too fragile as it is. Ivorians deserve to live without the fear of a new coup or new hostilities," he said. "It is in no one’s interest to prevent lasting peace in our country.”

    Ivorian government officials say they are ready to work with political opponents who will accept Mr. Ouattara as their president, but not with those who are still resistant to the current situation.

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora