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Ivory Coast’s Presidential Struggle

April 9, 2011

Yes, the international community recognizes Alassane Ouattara as president of the Ivory Coast, not Laurent Gbagbo. But that doesn’t give Ouattara’s forces the right to kill “hundred of civilians,” rape Gbagbo’s supporters and burn down villages.

In village after village investigated by Human Rights Watch, Republican Forces combatants killed, raped, and pillaged the predominantly Guéré population. The Guéré are originally from western Côte d’Ivoire and largely supported Gbagbo in last year’s election. A 47-year-old woman told Human Rights Watch that she looked on as two fighters killed her father, husband, and 10-year-old son around the family’s cocoa farm near Doké. A 32-year-old man described pro-Ouattara forces entering Diboké and opening fire on civilians as they ran out to see which side’s forces had entered, killing at least three people right in front of him. In at least 10 villages around Toulepleu and Bloléquin, villagers said they hid in the bush and watched as the Republican Forces set fire to houses and buildings used to store crops and seeds, slaughtered animals, and stole everything of value.

Both sides should realize that killing civilians doesn’t accomplish anything. How does raping a mother “in front of her children”or killing men and women who are between the ages of 70 and 80 oust Gbagbo from being president? It doesn’t. All it does is escalate unnecessary violence, which is directed towards people whose only crime–as far as I know–is voting for Laurent Gbagbo.

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