Côte d’Ivoire round-up: The Gbagbo chapter ends

Dominic Browne with a round-up of news and analysis on the ending of the Côte d'Ivoire power struggle and country's future after this bloody chapter.

Laurent Gbagbo was pulled from his bunker yesterday ending the power struggle in Côte d’Ivoire that has cost 800 lives at least, and displaced a million people from the city of Abidjan alone.

The Guardian reported:

“Backed by French tanks, forces loyal to Gbagbo’s opponent, Alassane Ouattara, said they stormed his underground bunker at the presidential residence in Abidjan, interrogated Gbagbo then carried him away with his wife, Simone, and his son Michel.

“We attacked and forced in a part of the bunker,” Issard Soumahro, a pro-Ouattara soldier at the scene, told the Associated Press. “He was there with his wife and his son. He wasn’t hurt, but he was tired and his cheek was swollen from where a soldier had slapped him.”

There has been some dispute over who actually arrested Gbagbo. The Atlantic have an analysis and round up of the different accounts and reports on the ending of Gbagbo’s seige. Uri Freidman writes:

“There are conflicting reports, however, about whether French forces or Ouattara’s forces arrested Gbagbo, and the answer matters. If the French captured Gbagbo, Ouattara could look weak as he prepares to assume power, especially given the belief among Gbagbo supporters that France–a former colonial power in the Ivory Coast–is engaging in neo-colonialism. Not surprisingly, then, it’s Gbagbo’s people who are claiming the French arrested their leader, and the French and Ouattara supporters who insist it was Ouattara’s forces, with a French assist.”

They also have a video of Gbagbo taken just after his arrest by the Ivorian television station TCI.

The Gbagbo camp have insisted that he was taken by French special forces. The French have said he was taken by Ivorian forces and also deny Gbagbo’s repeated accusations that they were plotting a coup in their former colony. The BBC have a analysis here on why France need to tread carefully in the country.

Percy Zvomuya writes here on the situation prior to the arrest yesterday, debunking Gbagbo’s claims to want to liberate the country from neo-colonialism:

“They (Gbagbo’s camp) also accuse France of aiding the 2002 rebellion that split Côte d’Ivoire into two. However, this nationalistic discourse doesn’t translate itself on the ground. Gbagbo’s regime is highly corrupt and has mismanaged the Ivorian economy for more than 10 years.”

Gbagbo is reported to have been taken to the City hotel in Abidjan, where Alassane Ouattara, who was officially recognised as the winner of last November’s elections, and his government in waiting, have been encamped under UN protection. The Guardian have reported that:

“The international criminal court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has begun preliminary examination of possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ivory Coast, including accusations levelled against pro-Ouattara forces.”

President Ouattara has promised a “truth and reconciliation commission” to look into accusations of massacres and and crimes made against both sides in the conflict. Ouattara has also called for “calm” and for citizens to “show restraint” in the aftermath to this conflict.

The Sydney Morning Herald have reported that:

“The UN, which has more than 9,000 troops and police in Ivory Coast, will keep up its mission helping to restore law and order and Ban (Ki-Moon) offered help countering a “critical” humanitarian emergency after the conflict.”

Ban Ki-Moon the UN secretary general, said:

“This is an end of a chapter that should never have been.We have to help them to restore stability, rule of law, and address all humanitarian and security issues.””

The conflict followed disputed election results last year. Time magazine have an article from shortly after the elections which provides background to these current events and highlights the tragic divisions in the country even before last year’s election.

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