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Posts Tagged ‘Côte d’Ivoire’

Ivory Coast rebels ‘kill hundreds’

Posted by Admin on April 10, 2011

Map of the communes of Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

Ivory Coast

http://www.headlinenewsbureau.com/siterun_data/news/world/doc291ace7a012889cb7d9555e7e0a20197.html

Reports of mass murders and rapes in villages. Pro-government forces also accused of atrocities

Mass killings have been carried out by both sides of the conflict in Ivory Coast, according to the campaign group Human Rights Watch.

Their report documents a trail of death and destruction carried out by rebel forces who have swept through the country and are now fighting on the streets of Abidjan to secure the presidency for Alassane Ouattara.

As Ouattara, backed by the UN and the international community, edges closer to victory, the Guardian has uncovered evidence of atrocities committed by the forces acting in his name. Refugees who scrambled through the rainforest to safety in neighbouring Liberia have described children being burned alive during rebel attacks and bodies littering the streets.

HRW is calling for an investigation into massacres carried out by both the rebels and those loyal to the defiant president, Laurent Gbagbo, who refused to give up power after losing the presidential election in November.

Hundreds have been killed by forces loyal to Ouattara, according to HRW’s report. It found that summary executions of perceived Gbagbo supporters had taken place, and reported accounts of mass rape. Matt Wells, HRW’s Ivory Coast researcher, said: “In village after village, Ouattara’s forces terrorised civilians perceived as supporting Gbagbo, killing hundreds and raping dozens more. In committing to move Ivory Coast out of its longstanding crisis, Ouattara must ensure that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes are brought to justice.”

Pro-Gbagbo forces are also accused of having carried out atrocities, killing more than 100 presumed Ouattara supporters as rebels advanced.

The Guardian spent a week travelling in the border region between Ivory Coast and Liberia, hearing tales of savage attacks on civilians. It also encountered what is emerging as a recurrent aspect of the violence in Ivory Coast: the use of mercenaries from Liberia, believed to have been recruited by both sides in the conflict.

Crouching in the bushes along the banks of the river that separates Liberia from Ivory Coast, two young Liberian men in filthy clothes and flip-flops agreed to a recorded interview after a small payment was made. They described how they had just returned home from a nine-day operation with pro-Ouattara rebels, where they said they were told to kill “anyone and everyone”.

They described barbaric scenes in which they surrounded villages in the west of Ivory Coast and, armed with machetes, killed everyone they saw. “The town we entered first, most of the people were on the road. We killed them, just cutting them with our machetes,” they said.

One of the towns they claim to have attacked was Blolequin. UN investigators said yesterday they had found more than 100 bodies in Blolequin and surrounding towns. Some appeared to have been burned alive and others had been thrown into a well. The UN believes Liberian mercenaries may have been responsible.

Toul�pleu is another town the two mercenaries say they attacked, and where HRW has uncovered evidence of mass killings. One mercenary said: “There are so many bodies in Toul�pleu. A digger came from Danane to bury the bodies. There was no way for cars to go over there because of the bodies on the ground. It stank.”

Now in the safety of a transit camp in Liberia, refugees fleeing from Toul�pleu spoke of the horrors they witnessed there. They described how they grabbed family members and escaped from their homes in a hail of bullets. Whoever and whatever were left behind were burned.

Cradling his five children in the red dust outside the UNHCR tent that is now all he has, Kuide Pehe Ferdinand described the chaos when the attack began. “I had too many children to save when the rebels hit. We tried to pick them all up, but one of my baby girls is disabled and we had to leave her. When I went back, they had burned the house with my baby inside.”

The Audgines were also grieving for a loved one killed after the rebels set fire to their home. “I can’t even eat, I feel such sadness now,” said Rosaline, mother of nine, whose elderly father was burned alive. She said she could do nothing to help him, as he shouted to them from within the flames. She and her children are a few of the many people in the camp who have shaved their heads in a traditional gesture of mourning.

The International Red Cross recently reached Toul�pleu, and said it found a town almost completely razed to the ground.

HRW has documented the executions of elderly people who were unable to escape rebel attacks. It says they were held captive in their villages by the pro-Ouattara rebels, and has evidence that more than 30 were executed. One 67-year-old woman from the village of Dok� told HRW that pro-Ouattara fighters had taken several captives out each day – often men and women between 60 and 80 years old – and executed them at point-blank range.

The pro-Ouattara forces have denied killing civilians in their advance upon Abidjan, blaming any deaths on Gbagbo’s soldiers. Those standing guard at the border crossing with Ivory Coast near Toe Town, eastern Liberia, were in victorious mood when interviewed by the Guardian. In their smart camouflage gear and with AK47s slung around their necks, they swaggered up to the barrier across the bridge between the two countries.

“I pray for democracy in Ivory Coast and that the will of the people will be respected,” said “Angelou”, their commander, gripping his gun. As he talked, the sound of gunfire cracked from the forest behind him and his troops. “We don’t have problem with civilians. If you see someone’s died, it’s because he’s taken up a gun. If he’s taken up arms, he is not a civilian, he is my enemy.”

The conflict threatens to cause a wider humanitarian crisis in the region. More than a million people have been internally displaced within Ivory Coast, while more than 125,000 have crossed the border into Liberia, a country that itself has been devastated by 14 years of civil war. Many Liberian communities are sheltering refugees, but barely have enough food for themselves, and there are fears the crisis will destabilise Liberia’s fragile peace.

Ivory Coast Alassane Ouattara Laurent Gbagbo Rachel Stevenson Guardian News & Media Limited 2011

 

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110401/wl_nm/us_ivorycoast

Posted by Admin on April 1, 2011

Laurent Gbagbo, Président de la République (Cô...

Laurent Gbagbo President of Ivory Coast

Fierce fighting spreads in Ivory Coast showdown

By Loucoumane Coulibaly and Ange Aboa – 1 hr 36 mins ago

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Fierce fighting spread across Abidjan on Friday as forces loyal to Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo fended off attacks by those seeking to install rival presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara.

The heaviest clashes centered around the state television station, which went off air after pro-Ouattara forces seized it overnight. Gbagbo’s camp said it had retaken it in the morning.

Booms of heavy weapons fire also rang out from near Gbagbo’s residence and office, both of which have come under attack, as well as two major military bases.

Gbagbo has been hit by a number of high-level defections in the military and the African Union called on him to step down immediately. But loyalists have fought back and a Paris-based Gbagbo adviser said his surrender was “out of the question.”

The main city in the world’s top cocoa grower has turned into a war-zone since forces loyal to the internationally recognized president, Ouattara, marched in on Thursday after a swift push south aimed at ousting Gbagbo.

Gbagbo has refused to quit since a November 28 election that U.N.-certified results said he lost.

Hundreds of foreigners were taken to a French military camp after they were threatened by looters.

The United Nations also called on Ouattara to rein in his forces, citing what it said were unconfirmed reports they had abducted and mistreated civilians.

“We can hear shooting and see soldiers moving but there are also armed civilians running in the streets,” said Camara Arnold, a resident in Cocody, the leafy neighborhood that is home to the state television building and Gbagbo’s residence.

One resident said overnight fighting was so heavy it shook the earth.

The power struggle had pushed cocoa prices higher, but they have tumbled since Ouattara’s push on expectations that exports will be freed up. Ivory Coast’s $2.3 billion 2032 bond, on which it defaulted in January, extended gains on Friday, rising almost 1.5 points on hopes of an end to the conflict.

Pro-Ouattara forces faced little resistance as they advanced south this week but Patrick Achi, a spokesman for his government, said Gbagbo’s forces were still fighting at the state television building.

It was not clear where Gbagbo was and his camp in Abidjan was not available for comment. Alain Toussaint, a Paris-based adviser of Gbagbo’s, said he would not give up.

“He will not surrender. It is out of the question.”

Ouattara’s fighters attacked Gbagbo’s residence overnight and heavy weapons fire erupted on Friday near the presidential palace in the center of town in what a military source said was an attack by pro-Ouattara forces.

Reuters witnesses said clashes were also heard coming from Treichville, a neighborhood where the Republican Guard has a base that is used to protect the city’s main bridges. Residents also reported heavy fighting at the Agban gendarmerie base.

Charity workers said it had become impossible for people in Abidjan to obtain medical care in the current conditions and UK-based Amnesty International said the city was “on the brink of … total chaos.”

STANDOFF KILLED HUNDREDS

Gbagbo has been in power since 2000. His mandate ran out in 2005 but the presidential election was delayed until 2010 because of instability in the country.

A Sorbonne-educated history professor who prides himself on being in touch with ordinary Ivorians, he rose to prominence as firebrand lecturer who challenged the autocratic rule of Ivory Coast’s first post-independence president.

The four month standoff since the election has killed hundreds and rekindled the country’s 2002-3 civil war. About 1 million have fled Abidjan alone and 122,000 more have crossed into Liberia, according to the United Nations.

Earlier this week, Ouattara’s forces advanced from several directions, taking the capital Yamoussoukro and the cocoa port of San Pedro with little resistance.

Some of Gbagbo’s top officers, including the head of his armed forces and gendarmerie, have abandoned him but an unknown number appear to be putting up stiff resistance and Ouattara’s forces could get sucked into bloody urban warfare with his hard-core supporters, some of whom are recently armed civilians.

The capture of San Pedro, which ships half of the country’s production, could kick-start the flow of beans that dried up in January due to sanctions, but an EU diplomat said sanctions will not be lifted until Gbagbo steps down.

An internal U.N. report, seen by Reuters, said pro-Gbagbo forces had ceded control of the airport to the world body but, elsewhere in the city, peacekeepers had exchanged fire with Gbagbo loyalists on Thursday.

At least 494 people have been confirmed killed since the standoff began, according to the United Nations, but, given the scale of fighting, the real figure is likely to be much higher.

(Additional reporting by Tim Cocks in Abidjan; Additional reporting and writing by David Lewis; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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Ivory Coast on the ‘brink of genocide’

Posted by Admin on December 31, 2010

Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo, 2007

Ivorian President Laurent Gbagbo

http://www.headlinenewsbureau.com/siterun_data/news/world/doc57e3a35c5aebc34917033c0384ae6cf0.html

Ivory Coast on the \'brink of genocide\'

Ivory Coast on the ‘brink of genocide’

UN ambassador says houses are marked by tribal allegiance and calls for international intervention

Ivory Coast is on the “brink of genocide” and the world must take urgent action, the country’s new ambassador to the UN has warned.

Youssoufou Bamba expressed alarm that houses in certain areas were being marked according to the tribe of the person who lives there.

World leaders have stepped up pressure on President Laurent Gbagbo to quit in favour of Alassane Ouattara, who is widely recognised as having won last month’s elections.

Speaking in New York, Bamba, appointed as ambassador to the UN by Ouattara, described him as the rightful ruler of Ivory Coast. “He has been elected in a free, fair, transparent, democratic election,” he said. “The result has been proclaimed by the independent electoral commission, certified by the UN. To me the debate is over, now you are talking about how and when Mr Gbagbo will leave office.”

Bamba alleged there had been a “massive violation of human rights”, with more than 170 people killed during street demonstrations in Ivory Coast. “Thus, one of the messages I try to get across during the conversations I have conducted so far, is to tell we are on the brink of genocide. Something should be done.”

He implied that Ouattara supporters, whose strongholds are largely in the north, could be targeted by Gbagbo backers, saying: “If houses are being marked according to your tribe, what is going to be next?”

Bamba said he planned to meet every member of the UN security council. “I intend to meet all the 15 members to explain to them the gravity of the situation … We expect the United Nations to be credible and the United Nations to prevent violation and to prevent the election to be stolen from the people.”

The 28 November election was meant to reunite Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa producer, after a 2002-03 civil war. But a dispute over the results has provoked lethal street clashes and threatens to restart open conflict.

The UN general assembly last week recognised Ouattara as Ivory Coast’s legitimate president by unanimously deciding that the list of diplomats he submitted be recognised as the sole official representatives of Ivory Coast at the UN.

The UN’s peacekeeping chief, Alain Le Roy, said his troops had become a target of violence in Ivory Coast after a campaign of “disturbing lies” on state television suggested the UN was arming and transporting anti-Gbagbo rebels.

The US state department spokesman, Mark Toner, said America was planning for the possible evacuation of its embassy in Ivory Coast amid concerns of a full-blown conflict.

Ouattara and his prime minister, Guillaume Soro, remain holed up in a hotel in the commercial capital, Abidjan, protected by UN forces. Supporters of Gbagbo, the Young Patriots, have threatened to storm the hotel.

The group’s leader, Charles Bl� Goud�, who is also Gbagbo’s youth minister, warned the west African regional bloc, Ecowas, not to send troops. “They should prepare themselves very well because we are thinking about totally liberating our country, and soon I will launch the final assault,” he said.

West African leaders have backed off their threat of military action for now. On Tuesday the presidents of Sierra Leone, Benin and Cape Verde delivered an ultimatum on behalf of Ecowas, hoping to escort Gbagbo into exile. He refused to budge.

An Ouattara adviser, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Gbagbo demanded a vote recount during the negotiations with the visiting delegation and wants amnesty if he leaves office.

The Nigerian president, Goodluck Jonathan, said the leaders would return to Ivory Coast on Monday. “Whenever there is a dispute, whenever there is disagreement, it is dialogue that will solve issues,” Jonathan said in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, where Ecowas is based. “The dialogue is on. They are encouraging us to go back.”

Ivory Coast United Nations Human rights David Smith

 

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