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Equal Justice In Cote d'Ivoire


Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara speaks to reporters during a news conference at the United Nations headquarters in New York, July 27, 2011.

The government of Cote d'Ivoire continues its work bringing stability and reconciliation to the West African nation.

The government of Cote d'Ivoire continues its work bringing stability and reconciliation to the West African nation after the bitter factional fighting that followed last November's disputed election. President Alassane Ouattara has been formally invested, and the men and women he named to run government ministries are organizing their departments to begin getting the country and its once vibrant economy moving again following four months of post-election violence and nearly 10 years of political stalemate.

One of the big questions facing the new government is what fate awaits former President Laurent Gbagbo. Gbagbo rejected election results certified by a United Nations observer commission showing that he had lost the vote. His refusal to step down, his seizure of the central bank to remain in power and his use of security forces against pro-Ouattara demonstrators triggered fighting that cost some 3,000 people their lives and uprooted about one million more. There are also allegations of human rights abuses committed by forces aligned with Ouattara that must be investigated.

Cote d'Ivoire's prosecutor recently charged Gbagbo and his wife Simone with economic crimes, robbery, looting and embezzlement for their actions during the infighting. Others are expected to be charged for the post-election violence as well.

When President Ouattara was running for office last year, accountability and an end of impunity were central to both his campaign and the vision he outlined for his nation. He stressed that justice must be applied impartially, regardless of a defendant's rank or political affiliation. His government now has the chance to put these words into action.

The United States urges President Ouattara to honor his campaign promises by ensuring that the process of impartial justice and accountability includes all detainees awaiting trial, including the former president and his wife. They should be treated with dignity and respect, and in accordance with Ivorian law and their obligations under international human rights statutes.

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