Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ivory Coast News Update: Western-backed Leader Announces Show-trial for President Gbagbo Ousted in French Coup

Ivory Coast: Alassane Ouattara says Laurent Gbagbo 'will be tried in his own country'

Laurent Gbagbo, Ivory Coast's toppled leader, will be protected before facing justice in his own country, the new president has declared.

By Aislinn Laing, Africa Correspondent, and Jon Swaine in New York 10:51PM BST 12 Apr 2011

As he began the task of reconciling the divided west African nation, Alassane Ouattara announced “legal proceedings” were under way against Mr Gbagbo, his wife and political allies.

Mr Ouattara dismissed calls for Mr Gbagbo, who is accused of atrocities against civilians, to be swiftly deported for trial and said “all measures” were being taken to protect him after his dramatic capture.

“I ask you to remain calm and show restraint,” Mr Ouattara said in a televised address, in which he hailed “the dawn of a new era of hope”.

A UN-backed attempt to move Mr Gbagbo descended into farce on Tuesday evening, as officials admitted the deposed strongman had simply refused to budge from his room at Abidjan's Golf Hotel.

Farhan Haq, the UN Secretary-General's deputy spokesman, said earlier that Mr Gbagbo had been moved to a secret location, presumed to be in the north where Mr Ouattara’s support is based.

However Mr Haq last night told The Daily Telegraph his announcement “was made based on information on the ground that has now been corrected”.

Hamadoun Toure, the UN spokesman in Ivory Coast, confirmed that a UN convoy arrived at the hotel to transport Mr Gbago to an airfield for a flight north, but he refused to leave his room.

"We went to collect him and he wouldn't come," he said. “We can't force him. That's not our job.”

Mr Gbagbo is expected to remain in custody as preparations are made for him, his wife Simone and key lieutenants to be tried over violence that has raged since disputed elections in November.

Mr Ouattara dismissed suggestions that Mr Gbagbo would be sent for trial to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

“They will receive dignified treatment and their rights will be respected,” he said.

Mr Ouattara said he would also establish a truth and reconciliation committee to investigate alleged massacres perpetrated by both sides.

UN and French forces moved to stamp out the final pockets of resistance in the city yesterday.

In Abidjan, battles raged in areas where Mr Gbagbo’s support was strongest. Residents in the northern neighbourhood of Yopougon said armed militia were still roaming the streets.

Gunfire and explosions were also heard in the central Plateau, near the French military base in the south and in the northern suburb of Cocody, where Mr Gbagbo had remained in his bunker in the presidential residence for 10 days.

Philippe Mangou, the Ivory Coast army's chief of staff, and former Gbagbo ally, urged all security forces to back Mr Ouattara, as generals pledged their loyalty to the internationally recognised president.

The conflict has killed at least 800 people. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said at least 536 people had been killed since the start of the month in the west alone. The UN Human Rights Council has established a group of experts to identify those responsible.

Further details emerged on Tuesday about how Mr Gbagbo was captured and the moments after he was brought out of his bunker. A soldier with Mr Ouattara’s forces said Mr Gbagbo was “trembling and sweating” as he was bundled into an armoured car wearing a bullet-proof vest for his own protection.

“When forces got into the bunker, they found Gbagbo behind his desk, and the first thing he said was 'Don’t kill me’,” he said.

Reports suggested Desire Tagro, one of Mr Gbagbo’s closest aides, died on Tuesday in unclear circumstances, after surrendering.

Ivory Coast Cocoa Harvest Threatened,
Executive Analysis Says

By Debarati Roy - Apr 12, 2011

Cocoa production in Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest grower, may continue to be disrupted because farmers fled plantations during the violence that followed a disputed presidential election, according to Exclusive Analysis.

Unrest is likely to continue in the cocoa-producing southwest, as well as the main port and commercial center of Abidjan and the capital Yamoussoukro, even after the capture of the country’s former president, Laurent Gbagbo, said Robert Besseling, a senior Africa forecaster at the London-based specialist intelligence company.

“The production of cocoa has been affected because of widespread fighting and displacement of almost 1 million people,” Besseling said today in a telephone interview. “Farms have been neglected, and we could continue to see religious and ethnic violence in some of the regions.”

Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of the November election, has been battling Gbagbo for control of the West African nation.

Ouattara faces significant risks of a coup for the next year from groups that have refused to recognize him as the legitimate president, Besseling said.

Cocoa growers in Ivory Coast are just beginning to gather the mid-crop, the smaller of two annual harvests, according to Macquarie Group Ltd. in London.

To contact the reporter on this story: Debarati Roy in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at

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