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Posts tagged ‘Côte d’Ivoire’

Former Ivory Coast president is well enough to stand trial.

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo, who stands accused of multiple war crimes, is well enough to stand trial, judges at the International Criminal Court ruled on Friday.

But they also warned that his fragile mental health required close monitoring and appropriate treatment.

Preparations for Gbagbo’s trial for crimes against humanity including murder, rape and persecution have been on hold since June, when he told judges the ill-treatment he had received at the hands of his captors in Ivory Coast had left him unfit to stand trial.

Judges found Gbagbo, 67, was able to understand the charges against him, which relate to the civil war that followed his refusal to stand down after losing presidential elections in 2010. Some 3,000 were killed and more than a million were displaced in four months of fighting.

The trial can only begin once judges have confimed the charges against Gbagbo and no date has been set yet.

One of the doctors the court consulted found that Gbagbo was “a shadow of his former self”, while another said he tired easily and had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

When he arrived in The Hague last December, Gbagbo said he was ill after having been held in a windowless room.

“The question is not whether Mr Gbagbo is at present in full possession of the higher or better faculties he may have had in the past,” they wrote, “but whether his current capacities are sufficient for him to take part in proceedings against him.”

A third doctor cited in the judges’ ruling said Gbagbo seemed “more concerned with salvaging his image” than with addressing the specifics of the case.

Gbagbo is the first former head of state to be brought before the 10-year-old ICC – the world’s first permanent war crimes court – which earlier this year handed down its first conviction, jailing Congolese warlord Thomas Lubanga for 14 years.


By Thomas Escritt | Reuters

EU grants Ivory Coast 115 million euros budget support.

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – The European Union granted Ivory Coast 115 million euros in budget supporton Thursday, aiming to help the West African nation back on its feet following a decade of political crisis that ended in a brief war last year.

The world’s top cocoa grower, Ivory Coast suffered from years of stagnation during the conflict which saw the country divided between northern rebels and southern government loyalists.

President Alassane Ouattara’s government has received strong support from foreign partners since fighting ended and the economy is expected to record growth of 8.6 percent this year, following a 4.7 percent contraction in 2011.

“The European Union will remain beside Ivory Coast to help it quickly become once again a pillar of stability and growth in West Africa,” European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told journalists in Abidjan following the signing of the accord.

The EU, one of the West African nation’s top donors, has mobilised 430 million euros to aid Ivory Coast’s reconstruction since April 2011. The first disbursement of the new funding is expected before the end of the year.

Ivory Coast increased spending by 17 percent in a 3.814 trillion CFA franc 2013 budget adopted by the cabinet earlier this month that targets long-neglected infrastructure, power production and agriculture.



Ousted Gbagbo general jailed in Ivory Coast.


ABIDJAN (Reuters) – A top military commander under Ivory Coast‘s former president Laurent Gbagbo was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Thursday in the first trial involving an accused instigator of last year’s post-election violence.

General Bruno Dogbo Ble headed the elite Republican Guard during the brief conflict, which killed more than 3,000 people and erupted after Gbagbo refused to accept his defeat to rival Alassane Ouattarain an election held in late 2010.

“Dogbo Ble is guilty of complicity in kidnapping, illegal detention and murder … The tribunal condemns him to 15 years of military detention,” lead judge Mathurin Yao Kanga told a court in the commercial capital Abidjan.

The prosecution had requested a sentence of 20 years.

A staunch Gbagbo loyalist, Dogno Ble and four co-defendants were charged over the abduction and killing of retired Colonel-Major Adama Dosso in March 2011, at the height of the violence.

Dosso was leaving Ouattara’s headquarters at Abidjan’s lagoon-side Golf Hotel when he was stopped at a roadblock manned by pro-Gbagbo soldiers. It was widely believed he was planning to throw his allegiance behind Ouattara.

His body was later discovered beside a motorway.

While several of his co-defendants admitted to their role in the killing during the trial, Dogbo Ble denied ordering the murder and told the court he was proud of his service during the conflict.

The four other men, all of them soldiers, were convicted and given sentences ranging from five to 15 years.

A lawyer representing Dosso’s family at the trial said they were satisfied with the decision, but Dogbo Ble’s defence team said they planned to appeal the verdict.

“We raised objections that were not respected … We’re going to appeal,” Mathurin Dirabou said.

Gbagbo was captured by fighters backing Ouattara during the final battle for Abidjan and is awaiting trial before the International Criminal Court on crimes against humanity charges for his alleged role in the violence.

Most of his political and military allies are either in detention in Ivory Coast or living in exile in neighbouring West African nations.

United Nations investigators have accused key members of the Gbagbo regime of establishing a base in neighbouring Ghana from which they are working to destabilise the current Ivorian government, according to a report seen by Reuters this week.


By Loucoumane Coulibaly | Reuters

IMF raises growth forecast for Ivory Coast to 8.6 pct in 2012.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday raised its 2012 economic growth forecast for Ivory Coast to 8.6 percent and said the country, a top cocoa producer, was on track for the release of another $100 million in IMF loans.

The IMF previously forecast growth at 8.1 percent. Inflation was 1.7 percent as of June, below 1.9 percent at the end of last year.

“The prospects for 2013 are positive, with continued strong growth and low inflation,” said Michel Lazare, the head of the IMF mission in Ivory Coast.

The latest loan tranche, which still requires approval from the IMF board, would come under a three-year, $616 million loan package approved last year to help Ivory Coast recover from a decade of crisis and civil war. The loans carry no interest rate until 2013.

Once the star performer for French-speaking West Africa, Ivory Coast was hit by years of stagnation since a failed 2002 coup split the country and a brief post-election war killed thousands last year.

But Ivory Coast is showing signs of revival with the end of the war, and the economy performed better than expected in the first half of the year, the IMF said after a visit this month.

President Alassane Ouattara, who took office in 2011, has focused on economic reforms and investment in infrastructure. The government also launched a major overhaul of its cocoa sector to guarantee minimum wages for farmers and encourage investment in aging plantations.

The reforms helped the country win deals with the IMF, World Bank and Paris Club to cancel over $10 billion of an estimated $12.5 billion in external debt.

The IMF commended Ivory Coast for the changes, but said there were some delays in reforming the electricity sector to help deal with rising world energy prices.

“The continued implementation of authorities’ reform agenda supported by the Fund (loan) arrangement should result in substantial job creation, increased funding possibilities for pro-poor expenditures, and higher living standards more generally for the people of Côte d’Ivoire,” the IMF said.



Ivory Coast government calls on attackers to disarm.


Ivory Coast Prime Minister Jeannot Kouadio Ahoussou called on the perpetrators of attacks against the army to disarm and not block the country’s “revival”, according to a statement received Saturday.

“The government firmly condemns these acts of extraordinary violence,” Ahoussou said in the statement.

“Military authorities are hard at work to curb these waves of violence.”

Recent attacks in and around Abidjan have sparked a sharp rise in tension more than a year after the post-electoral crisis of December 2010 to April 2011 claimed 3,000 lives.

But some residents “still believe that the solution to their problems comes through guns and violence”, Ahoussou said, adding that the attacks attempt to spread fear and deter investment in the country currently on the path of “revival”.

He also called for dialogue and said the government would establish “listening missions” across the country.

On Thursday, armed men attacked an army base, a prison and police stations near Ivory Coast’s economic capital Abidjan in the latest of a series of assaults.



Ivory Coast leader foresees Mali intervention within weeks to chase out Islamist extremists.

PARIS – The Ivory Coast president says military intervention in Mali is “inevitable” within weeks, if there’s no quick change in the West African country where Islamist extremists rule the north.

Alassane Ouattara said in an interview published Sunday in the French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche the intervention force would likely include soldiers from Niger, Nigeria and perhaps countries such as Chad — with logistical help from France and the United States. He defined logistical help as material support and counsellors but added that combat aircraft are needed.

Ouattara heads the West African regional bloc ECOWAS which secured Mali’s consent for an intervention at a meeting last week in Ivory Coast.

The proposal for an approximately 3,000-member force still needs approval from the U.N. Security Council, which France leads starting Wednesday.


Associated PressBy The Associated Press | Associated Press 

West African military chiefs meet on Mali force.

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  • Refugees from northern Mali mill around at the Malian refugee camp in the village of Dibissi on June 12. West African military leaders met in Ivory Coast on Saturday to define the mission of a regional security force that could be sent to northern Mali to fight armed groups in control of the north. (AFP Photo/Issouf Sanogo)Refugees from northern Mali mill …

West African military leaders met in Ivory Coast on Saturday to define the mission of a regional security force that could be sent to northern Mali to fight armed groups in control of the north.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says it has a 3,000-man force on standby to enter Mali to help the interim government and try to take back the northern half of the country, now controlled by Tuareg rebels and Al-Qaeda allies.

Mali lost the territory to the rebels in the chaotic aftermath of a March 22 coup in the capital Bamako.

The ECOWAS force would “stabilise and consolidate” the transitional powers in the capital and, alongside the Malian army, “engage in the reconquest of the north”, said Ivory Coast army chief Soumaila Bakayoko at the start of the meeting.

He added that violence would only be a last resort, “after all attempts at dialogue were exhausted”.

Malian army chief of staff Colonel Major Ibrahima Dahirou Dembele told reporters it would be difficult to solve the situation in the north without military intervention.

The meeting came a day after ECOWAS asked the United Nations Security Council to support the force. The UN has not yet agreed and is concerned by the size of the force.

In an interview to be published in France’s Journal de Dimanche on Sunday, Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou again called on the UN to adopt a resolution supporting military intervention in Mali and to stop “prolonging” the debate.



Ivory Coast says it has uncovered coup plot.

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ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Authorities in Ivory Coast have discovered and prevented a plot to overthrow the government organised by exiled military officers and a close advisor to former President Laurent Gbagbo, the interior minister said late on Tuesday.ccr

The minister, Hamed Bakayoko, said the security services had arrested several participants in the alleged plot and seized documents outlining a plan to topple new President Alassane Ouattara and create a transitional military authority.

During an hour-long interview on national television, Bakayoko played a video recording which he said the plotters had intended to transmit after seizing the headquarters of the broadcaster.

The poorly filmed footage showed several army officers in uniform seated before an Ivorian flag as one of them read a statement announcing the government takeover by a military council.

Bakayoko identified the leader and spokesman of the group as Colonel Kate Gnotua, a former senior officer in Gbagbo’s presidential guard.

“All state institutions are hereby dissolved. All political activities are suspended. A curfew has been put in place until further notice … All land, air and sea borders are closed,” Gnotua read out on the video.

The West African nation is gradually recovering from a brief but brutal civil war that ended last year following a disputed 2010 election.

The U.N.-certified election was won by Ouattara but Gbagbo, the incumbent, refused to step down until he was defeated by pro-Ouattara forces backed by French and U.N. troops.

Gbagbo was captured when his residence was overrun in April 2011 and is now in The Hague awaiting trial before the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges.


Authorities arrested more than one hundred of Gbagbo’s supporters in the wake of the violence, but many of his senior military officials and political allies fled into exile, most to neigbouring Ghana, Benin and Togo.

Gnotua was arrested in March after re-entering Ivory Coast from Ghana, Bakayoko said.

Last week authorities in Togo detained Moise Lida Kouassi, an advisor to Gbagbo who once served as defence minister, and extradited him to Ivory Coast.

Bakayoko said Lida Kouassi had been one of the leading organisers of the planned coup before falling out with Gnotua. Details of the plan were found on his computer hard drive, the interior minister said.

“I recognise that … I could have transmitted to the new authorities the information in my possession on what they were preparing,” Lida Kouassi said in a statement aired during the programme. “I am prepared to ask for forgiveness and request clemency from the president.”

Ouattara’s government has issued two dozen international arrest warrants for Gbagbo supporters living in exile for alleged crimes committed under his rule or during the post-election crisis. Lida Kouassi’s was the first to be acted upon.

“One by one we’ll get them. One by one,” Bakayoko said, referring to the individuals who remain at large. “I assure you that in the days to come you’re going to see events speed up.”

The interior minister said that state intelligence services had also uncovered links between the alleged coup plotters and a group of Liberian mercenaries and pro-Gbagbo militias blamed for a series of recent attacks in western Ivory Coast.

Seven United Nations peacekeepers were among 18 people killed on Friday in an ambush that Ivorian authorities blamed on fighters it said had crossed over from neighbouring Liberia. Another four people were killed in a raid on Monday night.


ReutersBy Joe Bavier | Reuters

African leaders to ask for UN intervention on Mali.

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — A leading African diplomat says a military intervention in the troubled nation of Mali is becoming more likely and called on the U.N. Security Council to support regional powers in such an operation.

Nassirou Bako serves as the foreign minister of Benin and as the spokesman for the current chairman of the African Union.

He made his comments in Ivory Coast, where a group of African leaders tasked with dealing with the crisis in Mali were meeting Thursday.

Mali, once considered a model democracy, was thrown off course by a March 21 coup and a subsequent rebel takeover in its north.

Bako said the “military option appears more and more inevitable, but this decision cannot be unilaterally taken by ECOWAS,” the body that represents nations in West Africa.

He says ECOWAS members plan to draft a resolution to submit to the Security Council, in the hopes of having U.N. backing for a military operation in Mali.


Associated PressBy GERMAIN NDRI | Associated Press 

West Africa envoys quit Mali.

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Two West African envoys quit Mali after failing to reach agreement with coup leaders on naming the head of a transitional government.

Ivory Coast envoy Adama Bictogo on Saturday said prior to departure that talks with the ex-junta, who staged a coup on March 22, concerning the post of interim leader had failed.

Bictoga and Burkina Faso counterpart Djibril Bassole had been in Mali since Tuesday representing the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in talks with the ex-junta on resolving the political crisis.

“We were unable to reach an agreement for the moment,” said Bictogo, Ivory Coast minister for African integration.

He said that under the consitution ECOWAS believed that current interim president Dioncounda Traore should continue in the job at the end of a 40-day initial period but the ex-junta “does not agree.”

The ex-junta stood down following the coup and handed transitional powers to Traore on April 12 but are now said to be hoping that coup leader Amadou Haya Sanago takes over as interim leader.

The main task facing the interim government is to address the crisis in the country’s north, which fell under the control of Tuareg rebels and Islamic insurgents during the coup.



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