Ivorian President: Equal Justice in Post-Election Violence

Posted July 27th, 2011 at 7:50 pm (UTC-5)
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An international rights group says forces allied with Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara continued terrorizing certain ethnic groups even after the country's political crisis was resolved.

Amnesty International said in a report Wednesday hundreds of thousands of refugees are too afraid to return to their homes because they fear they will be targeted for attacks.

The report said in the months since Mr. Ouattara was inaugurated, rebel groups and traditional hunters continued attacking ethnic groups seen as supporters of Former President Laurent Gbagbo.

Amnesty is calling on Ivory Coast to disarm and disband the militia groups and to ensure the national security forces are responsible for maintaining security across the country.

Pro-Ouattara fighters and supporters of former president Laurent Gbagbo engaged in a violent four-month power struggle that ended with Mr. Gbagbo's capture in April.

The fighting began after Mr. Gbagbo lost a November presidential poll, but refused to give up power.

Earlier Wednesday Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara vowed justice would be equally applied to all those responsible for the post-election violence that killed more than 3,000 people.

Speaking at the United Nations Wednesday, President Ouattara said his supporters would not get special treatment.

U.N. human rights investigators say they have evidence that both sides may have committed war crimes and human rights abuses.

Mr. Ouattara last week set up a panel to look into possible crimes and told reporters his government will seek help from the International Criminal Court.

The Ivorian leader met with U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon Wednesday. A spokesperson for Mr. Ban said he and Mr. Ouattara discussed strengthening state institutions, restoring law and justice, the protection of human rights for all and national reconciliation.

President Ouattara said his top priority is to heal divisions among the Ivorian people.

During the political crisis, Mr. Gbagbo was accused of hiring Liberian mercenaries to help him stay in power.

Mr. Ouattara said Wednesday he is concerned about the possible lingering threat to security from these individuals. He said Ivory Coast and Liberia have agreed to exchange information about mercenaries crossing their border.

The president said Mr. Gbagbo and his wife are still being held at the presidential palace in northern Ivory Coast. Mr. Ouattara said they are being treated with dignity and will receive a fair trial.

In a related development, the U.N. Security Council Wednesday renewed the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Ivory Coast for another year.