Ivory Coast: Pro-Ouattara rebel leaders charged with war crimes

Rebel leaders who backed Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara have been charged over crimes committed during the country’s post-election crisis in 2010-2011, sources said.

Until now, only members of the former regime have faced justice over the five months of violence that left more than 3 000 people dead, drawing criticism from the opposition and civil society groups.

“From this week, more [charges] will follow,” a judicial source said, confirming a report Monday in the Jeune Afrique weekly.

Patrick Baudouin, president of the International Federation for Human Rights, told AFP there had been “around twenty charges” including former pro-Ouattara rebels as well as militants loyal to ex-president Laurant Gbagbo.

Those charged include Cherif Ousmane and Losseni Fofana, two important commanders during the crisis who now have roles within the Ivorian security forces, a source close to the case told AFP. Former general Georges Guiai Bi Poin, formerly a top figure in Gbagbo’s security apparatus, has also been charged, the source said.

“All of them have been charged in proceedings concerning the most serious crimes committed during the crisis,” the source said.

The charges come just three months before a presidential election in October which Ouattara, who has faced criticism over his criminal justice record, is favourite to win.

“It’s welcome news that President Ouattara has decided to let justice run its course,” Baudouin said. “These charges, which mark a rebalancing in terms of prosecutions, will give new impetus to ongoing investigations.” – AFP

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