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Archive for the ‘Gbagbo’ Category

Successful Intervention: Côte d’Ivoire not Libya

The BBC reports on Monday, 11 April 2011, that ‘Ivory Coast leader Laurent Gbagbo has been detained, after being snatched from his besieged residence in the country’s main city, Abidjan. News that he was being held was broken by a Gbagbo aide and confirmed by France’s ambassador and forces loyal to his rival Alassane Ouattara. French tanks earlier advanced on the presidential residence in Abidjan. Mr Gbagbo has been refusing to cede power to Mr Ouattara after losing November [2010]’s presidential election. There were conflicting accounts about how Mr Gbagbo had been captured, with France’s ambassador saying he had been taken by troops loyal to Mr Ouattara and an aide to Mr Gbagbo saying French special forces had been involved’.[1] 

The crisis in Côte d’Ivoire had been going on for a long time, and has been recently overshadowed by the war in Libya and Colonel Gaddafi’s colourful personality. But eventually, Sarko proved that he really is a pro-active go-getter, even though the real prize of Libya’s oil has as yet escaped him. The BBC gives the following details: ‘On Sunday [, 10 April], UN and French helicopters launched a new wave of air strikes, and on Monday [. 11 April] French tanks were seen advancing on the residence. France’s ambassador to Ivory Cost, Jean-Marc Simon, told AFP news agency: “Laurent Gbagbo was arrested by the Republican Forces of Ivory Coast and taken to the Golf Hotel.” AFP added that eyewitnesses had seen pro-Ouattara forces entering the presidential compound while French and UN armoured vehicles stood on a road leading to the complex. However, an aide to Mr Gbagbo, Toussaint Alain, told Reuters news agency from Paris: “Gbagbo has been arrested by French special forces in his residence and has been handed over to the rebel leaders.” An unnamed French government source denied the report. “Mr Gbagbo was arrested by Mr Ouattara’s troops, that is true, but not by French special forces, who did not go into the enclosure of Mr Gbagbo’s residence,” the source told AFP’.[2]  But far from being overly optimistic and/or enthusiastic, the broadcaster Al Jazeera adds that ‘On Sunday [, 10 April], Human Rights Watch, a New York-based rights watchdog, meanwhile, accused forces loyal to Ouattara of killing hundreds of civilians, raping Gbagbo supporters and burning villages during an offensive in the country’s west. Daniel Bekele, HRW’s Africa director, warned that while international focus appeared to be on Abidjan, violence and rights abuses were occuring across the country. People interviewed by the group described how pro-Ouattara forces “summarily executed and raped perceived Gbagbo supporters in their homes, as they worked in the fields, as they fled, or as they tried to hide in the bush.” The report said that many of the abuses occurred from March 6-30, as villages in the west including Toulepleu, Doke, Blolequin, Duekoue and Guiglo fell to pro-Ouattara forces. At least 400 Ivorians have been killed in fighting between the two sides and tens of thousands have sought refuge in neighbouring Liberia, according to the UN’.[3] 

On its website, Human Rights Watch summarily declares that Côte d’Ivoire’s ‘New Government Should Investigate and Prosecute Atrocities by Both Sides’.[4]  The report, dated 9 April, details that ‘[f]orces loyal to President-elect Alassane Ouattara killed hundreds of civilians, raped more than 20 alleged supporters of his rival, Laurent Gbagbo, and burned at least 10 villages in Côte d’Ivoire’s far western region, Human Rights Watch said today [, 9 April]. Forces loyal to Gbagbo killed more than 100 presumed Ouattara supporters as Ouattara’s forces advanced in their March campaign. Upon taking power, Ouattara should urgently open a credible and impartial investigation into serious abuses by both sides and ensure that those responsible at all levels are brought to justice, Human Rights Watch said. People interviewed by Human Rights Watch described how, in village after village, pro-Ouattara forces, now called the Republican Forces of Côte d’Ivoire (Forces Républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire, FRCI), summarily executed and raped perceived Gbagbo supporters in their homes, as they worked in the fields, as they fled, or as they tried to hide in the bush. The fighters often targeted people by ethnicity, and the attacks disproportionally affected those too old or feeble to flee. “Killing and raping civilians is no way for Ouattara’s forces to end this conflict,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Ouattara should fulfill his public pledge to investigate and prosecute abuses by both sides if Côte d’Ivoire is to emerge from this horrific period.” In one particularly horrific incident, hundreds of ethnic Guéré civilians perceived as supporting Gbagbo were massacred in the western town of Duékoué by a mixture of pro-Ouattara groups, including Republican Forces under the overall command of Ouattara’s prime minister, Guillaume Soro. Three Human Rights Watch researchers conducted investigations in the Grand Gedeh region of Liberia between March 26 and April 7, interviewing over 120 victims of and witnesses to human rights abuses committed by both sides’ forces in the far western region of Côte d’Ivoire. More than 40,000 Ivorians have fled to Grand Gedeh as a result of the fighting. Human Rights Watch also interviewed some 20 victims and witnesses still in the far west towns of Guiglo, Duékoué, and Bloléquin by telephone. The abuses documented by Human Rights Watch occurred from March 6 to 30, 2011, as the western towns of Toulepleu, Doké, Bloléquin, Duékoué, and Guiglo, all formerly controlled by pro-Gbagbo forces, fell to the pro-Ouattara forces seeking to force Gbagbo from the presidency . . . Ouattara’s Republican Forces of Côte d’Ivoire comprise a loose coalition of combatants who previously fought for the Forces Nouvelles (“New Forces”) rebellion, the long-time rebel army led by Soro that has controlled the northern half of the country since late 2002. The Republican Forces also include former Ivorian army soldiers, policemen, and gendarmes who have recently defected from Gbagbo’s side. In village after village investigated by Human Rights Watch, Republican Forces combatants killed, raped, and pillaged the predominantly Guéré population. The Guéré are originally from western Côte d’Ivoire and largely supported Gbagbo in last year’s election’.[5] 

Here is a clip from BBC news showing the Ivory Coast UN ambassador breaking the news of Gbagbo’s capture to the media.


[1] “Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo arrested” BBC News (11 April 2011). http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13039825.

[2] “Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo arrested”.

[3] “Gbagbo being held by Ouattara forces  ” Al Jazeera (11 April 2011). http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2011/04/201141113442914400.html#.

[4] “Côte d’Ivoire: Ouattara Forces Kill, Rape Civilians During Offensive” Human Rights Watch (09 April 2011). http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/04/09/c-te-d-ivoire-ouattara-forces-kill-rape-civilians-during-offensive.

[5] “Côte d’Ivoire: Ouattara Forces Kill, Rape Civilians During Offensive”.