Calls for ICC probe as UN confirms 173 dead in Ivory Coast
Dec 23, 2010, 18:44 GMT
Paris/Abidjan/Geneva - A close ally of Ivory Coast's would- be president Alassane Ouattara on Thursday called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate possible crimes as the United Nations confirmed 173 people have died in the ongoing crisis.
Ivory Coast was plunged into violence after incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power to Ouattara - the man the world sees as the rightful winner of last month's presidential polls.
'We are waiting for the ICC to be able to send a mission to Ivory Coast ... and for all who are implicated in one way or another be transferred to The Hague,' Ouattara's prime minister Guillaume Soro, also the head of former northern rebel group New Forces, told the French daily Liberation.
'We fervently hope the international community doesn't take too long to realize that the place of Gbagbo is not in the presidential palace, but at the ICC in The Hague.'
Soro repeated his assertion that over 200 people have been killed in the last week as Gbagbo cracks down, using Liberian and Angolan mercenaries to operate death squads.
The UN revised its death toll since last Thursday - when security forces fired on a pro-Ouattara rally - up from 50.
'Between December 16 and December 21, human rights officers have substantiated allegations of 173 killings, 90 instances of torture and ill treatment, 471 arrests and detentions, and 24 cases of enforced or involuntary disappearances,' Kyung-wha Kang, the UN deputy high commissioner for human rights, told a special session of the UN Human Rights council in Geneva.
The UN said it found 'particularly alarming' the use of media outlets 'to incite hatred and violence among the population.'
ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo has already indicated he is closely watching events and has expressly warned Gbagbo's feared youth leader Charles Ble Goude, who has been using fiery language at daily televised rallies, that he could face prosecution.
'If as a consequence of Mr Charles Ble Goude's speeches, there is massive violence, he could be prosecuted,' Moreno-Ocampo said in a Tuesday statement.
Soro on Wednesday called on the United Nations Security Council, the European Union and the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to consider using force to oust Gbagbo.
However, Gbagbo has the backing of the army, and has ordered UN peacekeepers and supporting French troops out of the country.
The UN peacekeeping chief on Tuesday warned his 10,000-strong force was becoming a target after the Security Council ignored Gbagbo's order and extended the mandate of the mission, known as UNOCI, by six months
The defiant leader is refusing to buckle under international pressure, which ratcheted up a notch on Wednesday when the EU formalized a travel ban on Gbagbo and 18 allies and the World Bank announced all financial aid to Ivory Coast would be frozen.
France and Germany have advised their citizens to leave the former French colony.
Ouattara is widely recognized as the rightful winner of last month's presidential elections, which were aimed at healing the divisions of a 2002 civil war that split the country into the mainly Muslim north, which backs Ouattara, and Christian south, where Gbagbo holds sway.
The electoral commission pronounced Ouattara the winner, only for a Gbagbo ally heading up the constitutional council to annul results from Ouattara strongholds in the north and hand victory to the incumbent.
Ouattara is trying to run an alternative government from the UN- protected Golf Hotel in Abidjan, but pro-Gbagbo forces have erected barricades to prevent food and water getting through.
'The intention of Mr Gbagbo and the security forces loyal to him is clearly to blockade the United Nations peacekeeping mission and to suffocate the government of president-elect Ouattara,' UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the UN General Assembly Tuesday.
Ban warned a new civil war was a real possibility.
ECOWAS is to hold an emergency meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, on Friday to discuss the crisis.