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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Crimes de guerre en Côte d’Ivoire

by Rosa Moussaoui

War Crimes in the Ivory Coast

Translated Wednesday 6 April 2011, by Gene Zbikowski and reviewed by Gene Zbikowski

On April 3, as the situation in Abidjan was becoming bogged down, Allasane Ouattara had to face serious accusations that war crimes and massacres had been perpetuated by his Republican Forces of the Ivory Coast (FRCI) in the western part of the country. In those areas, NGOs warned of the continuation of deadly attacks.

Laurent Gbagbo admitted in the past that he had been elected in “calamitous” conditions in 2000. For his part, Alassane Ouattara will be burdened with serious accusations concerning the war crimes and the massacre of civilians which his troops are alleged to have committed in the past few days in western Ivory Coast. On April 3, as the situation in Abidjan was becoming bogged down, the General Secretary of the United Nations in person exhorted Alassane Ouattara, in a telephone conversation, to put an end to the massacres and to take measures against the elements of his Republican Forces of the Ivory Coast (FRCI) which had taken part in the killings in Duékoué, where 800 people, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) died when the city was taken.

The United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire, for its part, has established a “temporary death toll” of 330 dead, “mostly” killed by pro-Ouattara combatants, with pro-Gbagbo militia men and Liberian mercenaries also being involved in the killings. Kelnor Panglungshang of the ICRC, who was reached by telephone in Abidjan, called for “the protection of the civilian population so that such events cannot occur again.”

“When Red Cross volunteers arrived in Duékoué on March 31, they saw several hundred dead bodies lying in the streets,” he said. Whereas the Ouattara camp stated at the end of last week that they had “secured” these zones, Médecins sans frontiers describes a situation that is still “extremely tense and violent in and around several cities in western Ivory Coast.” “The inter-ethnic tensions are extremely severe, and acts of violence are occurring and are serious,” Renzo Fricke, who is in charge of emergencies for Médecins sans frontiers, said in alarm.

Serious human rights violations.

While the pro-Gbagbo militias and security forces have been subject to allegations of human rights violations since the beginning of the post-electoral crisis, the United Nations has been saying for several days that it is preoccupied by the behavior of the Republican Forces of the Ivory Coast. Composed of combatants from the Forces nouvelles, the rebellion born of the failed coup d’état of 2002, these pro-Ouattara troops are said to have perpetrated “looting and serious human rights violations such as kidnappings, arbitrary arrests and mistreatment of civilians,” according to the United Nations high commissioner for human rights.

The pro-Ouattara “invisible commando,” which has been active for several weeks in Abidjan, is also the subject of accusations, which were again denied on April 3 by Alassane Ouattara, while the “battle of Abidjan” was still subjecting the economic capital to violence and looting.

The Ivory Coast has well and truly plunged back into a cycle of violence, and Gbagbo’s departure will surely not be enough to put an end to it. This is a foreseeable consequence of the failure to disarm the militias and the rebellion, although this was a precondition to the holding of elections which is stipulated in the Ouagadougou accord of 2007.

“Ouattara will be ill placed to disarm those who have put him in power, all the more so as his prime minister is Guillaume Soro, the leader of the rebellion. And if he is now claiming the rebellion as his regular army, then he will have to answer to the atrocities that it is committing,” said David Mauger of the association “Survie.”

Like his predecessor, the president recognized by “the international community” is coming to power in “calamitous” conditions.

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