A legal adviser to incumbent Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo says the internationally-recognized president, Alassane Ouattara, is not being truthful after accusing Gbagbo, in a Thursday speech, of plunging the country into a humanitarian crisis.
Augustin Douoguih says Ouattara forces are to blame for the ongoing violence, which has left hundreds dead and tens of thousands fleeing the West African conflict.
“The speech is very typical of Ouattara. For anybody who knows this man, he is a liar; he lies the way you and I breathe. Gbagbo is the president of Ivory Coast. The Supreme Court of Ivory Coast, the Constitutional Court as we call it, recognizes him as the president. President Gbagbo was on French television a few nights ago saying the same thing,” said Douoguih.
“Nobody saying Ouattara is the recognized president-elect has pointed to a legal basis for it because there is none. His [Ouattara’s] people are the ones committing the atrocities in Ivory Coast today,” he added.
Officials of Ouattara’s government deny the accusation their forces are committing atrocities.
The United Nations is investigating reports of massacres in the western town of Duekoue, which pro-Ouattara forces seized from Gbagbo troops last week.
Ouattara said his rival’s refusal to cede power has plunged the country into a humanitarian crisis. But, he said crimes committed during the standoff will be investigated and perpetrators will be punished.
In his speech, Ouattara called on all Ivorians to refrain from acts of violence during efforts to return the country to normalcy. Ouattara told the nation his forces have set up a blockade around the presidential compound in Abidjan, where Gbagbo is barricaded.
Douoguih says part of Ouattara’s speech suggests that Gbagbo could be forced to step down and cede power.
“There is word going around that [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy has given orders to his troops to assassinate President Gbagbo tonight. If Ouattara believes his friend [Mr.] Sarkozy and trusts the French to accomplish that, obviously what he is thinking is that tomorrow Gbagbo will not be alive, so I will be the president. So, there won’t be fierce fighting as there has been until now because there won’t be [Mr.] Gbagbo to be defended. That is the only interpretation I can give to that,” Douoguih said.
VOA has no independent verification of Douoguih’s claim that France has given orders to assassinate Gbagbo.
Meanwhile, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet says Gbagbo still commands about 1,000 men in Abidjan, 200 of them at the palace compound. His loyalist forces used heavy weapons Wednesday to repel pro-Ouattara troops trying to enter the palace.