Ivory Coast launches war crimes inquiry

Inquiry will establish truth of facts in six months 'in order to take legal action against perpetrators, if necessary'.

    At least 3,000 people were killed in the post-election violence that engulfed Ivory Coast for months [AFP]

    Ivory Coast is to set up a commission of inquiry into crimes committed during the country's post-election violence, a council of ministers statement said.

    The statement, released on Wednesday after a meeting in the capital, Yamoussoukro, said the commission would "help understand how and why people were able to conceive, plan and execute such grave violations of human rights".

    "As a duty to memory, Ivory Coast intends to provide the means to establish the truth of the facts in order, if
    necessary, to take legal action against the perpetrators," the statement said.

    Alassane Ouattara, the president, signed the decree establishing the commission, giving it six months to reach conclusions.

    A presidential election in November last year plunged the West African nation into violence when Laurent
    Gbagbo, the former president currently under house arrest, refused to accept his loss.

    Gbagbo instead used loyal soldiers, gangs of armed youths and mercenaries to crush dissent.

    The power struggle between him and Ouattara rekindled a civil war that the election was supposed to resolve, killing at least 3,000 people.

    More than a million people were displaced while tens of thousands fled to neighbouring Liberia and Ghana.

    The conflict ended when Gbagbo was captured by French-backed pro-Ouattara forces in April.

    Ouattara has promised a South Africa-style truth and reconciliation commission to put the country's crisis behind it, but he also wants to try Gbagbo and his top aides for war crimes.

    The International Criminal Court is carrying out preliminary research and may soon order an investigation into the gravest crimes committed during the crisis.

    Gbagbo's supporters complain that no one from Ouattara's camp has been arrested for alleged crimes, despite evidence of abuses by forces loyal to the current president.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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