President Laurent Gbagb of La Cote d’Ivoire may have been overthrown, arrested and presently detained in the north of the country, but the situation continues to be desperate for his supporters almost everywhere. Reprisal killings, rape and adduction are currently characterizing the state of affairs in Cote d’Ivoire.
These crimes against humanity are being allegedly committed by rebels of the New Forces, including Liberian mercenaries loyal to the western-backed Ivorian President-elect Alassene Ouattara. The new Ivorian power holders may be carrying out these atrocities in retaliation to what allegedly may have also been done to them by Gbagbo supporters during the previous regime.
The alarming rate at which the Ivorian atrocities are allegedly being committed now seems to be raising serious eye-brows in certain quarters. One area of serious concern at the moment is the West town of Duekoue, close to the Liberian border where the rebels reportedly massacred about one thousand persons said to be Gbagbo supporters. A number of human rights organizations, including Amnesty International had earlier notified Mr. Ouatttara to end the reprisal killings. Earlier, there had also been calls by the West and those directly involved in Monday’s Abidjan showdown for former President Laurent Gbagbo to face trial before the International criminal Court or ICC for crimes against humanity.
The new President, Alassane Ouattara, during a recent news conference, emphasized the need for all sides in the country’s conflict to face justice, noting that he would ask the International Criminal Court to probe the massacres in which both his forces and those of his rival Laurent Gbagbo were suspected. “There will be charges on a national level and an international level,” he said. President Ouattara may be obliged to institute legal measures against his predecessor for his ugly political behavior, especially following last November presidential poll which he hijacked.
For the West, Gbagbo’s prosecution by the International Criminal Court for the atrocities committed by his soldiers and militias in Abidjan and elsewhere in the country was of priority. There may also be concerns by a few less powerful individuals and institutions about the mayhem/ massacres by fighters loyal to the man backed by the West, Mr. Ouattara in the west of la Cote d’Ivoire. If Gbagbo must take the blame for crimes against humanity committed by his forces and face war crimes trial, is it also necessary for Ouattara to be treated the same way for the ongoing killings, rape and torture by his forces in Abidjan and western Cote d’Ivoire?
With the deep involvement of the United States, United Nations and France in the Ivorian political and military crisis in favor of President-elect Alassane Ouattara, it may be a full-grown conclusion that the former President will be punished for ‘disrespecting’ the West no matter what happens. If former President Laurent Gbagbo must bear greater responsibilities for crimes committed by his forces, it is also true that President-elect Ouattara bears the same responsibilities for the heinous crimes committed by his New Forces rebels.