UN warns Ouattara over increased violence

The United Nations mission in Côte d’Ivoire accused the armed forces of President Alassane Ouattara on Thursday of stepping up attacks and violence in the south and west, and demanded an immediate investigation.

The mission is “particularly concerned about the increase of violent incidents and attacks carried out by elements of the RFIC (Republican Forces of Ivory Coast) against several villages,” its human rights officer Guillaume Ngefa told reporters.

He urged “immediate and impartial inquiries” into attacks carried out in recent days around the economic capital Abidjan in the south, as well as villages in the central and southern west of the country.

The areas he referred to are known to be home to supporters of Ouattara’s rival, ex-president Laurent Gbagbo, who is under house arrest.

RFIC troops backed by the United Nations and France arrested Gbagbo on April 11, bringing an end to a bitter fight between the two men for the presidency of the world’s leading cocoa producer.

The dispute arose from Gbagbo’s rejection of the UN-backed election commission’s ruling that he lost November presidential elections. He had led Ivory Coast for around 10 years.

Ouattara’s side says that close to 3 000 people were killed in the standoff, which peaked in 10 days of fighting in Abidjan and also saw bloodshed in the west.

Tens of thousands of people fled their homes to escape the violence.

Both sides in the conflict have been accused of atrocities.

Ouattara, who was sworn in last month, has vowed to investigate the alleged atrocities and also to build reconciliation.

The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) said Tuesday that abuses were continuing weeks after the end of the fight for the presidency.

The new government must “commit to pursuing legal action against those responsible for serious violations of human rights” on the part of Gbagbo as well as Ouattara, its president Souhayir Belhassen told reporters at the end of a visit. — AFP

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