Ivorian President: Equal Justice in Post-Election Violence

Posted July 27th, 2011 at 1:46 pm (UTC-5)
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Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara says justice will be equally applied to all those responsible for post-election violence in his country.

Speaking at the United Nations Wednesday, President Ouattara vowed his supporters would not get special treatment in cases stemming from unrest that killed more than 3,000 people.

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.

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.