News / Africa

    Ivory Coast's President-Elect Calls for End to Fighting

    President-elect Alassane Ouattara addresses the nation from the Golf Hotel after former president of Ivory Coast Laurent Gbagbo was arrested by forces that stormed the bunker where he hung on to power in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, April 11 2011
    President-elect Alassane Ouattara addresses the nation from the Golf Hotel after former president of Ivory Coast Laurent Gbagbo was arrested by forces that stormed the bunker where he hung on to power in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, April 11 2011

    Ivory Coast's President-elect Alassane Ouattara is calling on all fighters to lay down their weapons now that defiant leader Laurent Gbagbo has been captured.

    In a national address Monday night, Ouattara called for peace in a nation where four months of post-election violence has killed hundreds of people and displaced up to a million.

    The U.N. human rights office said Tuesday that at least 536 people were killed in recent fighting in western Ivory Coast.

    Ouattara said former president Gbagbo, his wife Simone and other close associates are in custody, and that they will be treated with dignity and brought to justice.

    The 69-year-old leader also vowed to set up a truth and reconciliation commission to hold those who committed human rights abuses and other crimes accountable.

    Pro-Gbagbo forces and fighters loyal to Ouattara have both been accused of killing and raping civilians since the political crisis began in December.

    Pro-Ouattara forces captured the entrenched former president Monday at the presidential compound in Abidjan. The fighters and French special forces had advanced on the compound after attacks by French and United Nations helicopters.

    Gbagbo and his wife spent the night at Abidjan's Golf Hotel, where they are being held by Ouattara's forces under U.N. protection. The hotel is where Ouattara has his headquarters.

    Ouattara was declared the winner of a November presidential poll, but Gbagbo refused to give up power despite intense international pressure.  Pro-Ouattara forces launched an offensive late last month, after mediators failed to convince Gbagbo to leave.

    Gbagbo had been president of Ivory Coast since being named the winner of the disputed 2000 election. He survived a 2002 civil war that split the country into rebel- and government-controlled areas.

    Gbagbo then stayed in power more than five years past his mandate, as elections were repeatedly postponed.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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