Côte d’Ivoire: Henri Konan Bédié implicated in the 2020 post-election violence  

By Florence Richard, in Abidjan
Posted on Thursday, 30 December 2021 13:19

Côte d'Ivoire elections
Former president Henri Konan Bedie, 86, in Yamoussoukro, Côte d'Ivoire Saturday, Sept. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Diomande Ble Blonde)

The report on the investigation into crimes committed after the re-election of Alassane Ouattara in October 2020 was made public on Monday 27 December. It holds many accountable, including the leader of the Parti Démocratique de Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI). 

Houses in flames, young people missing or murdered, charred corpses, burning barricades, clashes between armed gangs. One year on from the post election-violence that began in late 2020 in Côte d’Ivoire, the unit in charge of the investigation into these events has just delivered its explosive conclusions.

In a 60-page report made public on Monday 27 December, the investigative unit created by Alassane Ouattara in November 2020, composed of 40 judicial police officers and deployed to the field in February 2021, points the finger at major players in the opposition, who were hostile to a third term of office for the head of state.

Bédié’s ‘subversive operations’

According to the investigators, the call for a boycott and civil disobedience that was launched 40 days before the election by former president Henri Konan Bédié (HKB) was “one of the triggers” of this new cycle of violence that left 85 people dead and more than 500 injured across the country. At the beginning of November 2020, the day after the proclamation of Alassane Ouattara’s victory, Henri Konan Bédié had even announced the creation of a “National Transitional Council” with Pascal Affi N’Guessan.

The prosecutor at the Abidjan high court, Richard Adou, describes “a youth, responsible for much of the violence, instrumentalised by political leaders” and “galvanised by speeches calling for hatred”. The youth have “been armed to prevent the election from being held and to accentuate the climate of terror”.

The report states that “the investigations of the special unit have shown that the events that took place during the presidential election of 31 October 2020 were planned and financed mainly by political and civil society actors.” Additionally, “the investigations have also shown [that Henri Konan Bédié] financed several subversive operations through his chief of staff Narcisse N’Dri, Anges Félix N’Dakpri Djaha, PDCI-RDA deputy delegate in Toumodi, and his nephew Hyacinthe Bédié, whom he incited to block various access routes to the town of Daoukro [the PDCI leader’s hometown].”

Simone Gbagbo, Assoa Adou, Affi N’Guessan…

The investigators are also targeting, in no particular order, numerous personalities who opposed Ouattara’s re-election. At a time when the situation was particularly tense, a dozen of them were arrested, while others fled.

Still focusing on the PDCI, the report highlights the role of Maurice Kacou Guikahué, the party’s executive secretary, and that of Guillaume Soro, the former ally and ex-president of the National Assembly, who has been in exile for two years. He called on the army to “act” after the presidential election.

As one of the most virulent instigators of these acts of sedition and undermining of state authority, his criminal responsibility must be engaged.

Pascal Affi N’Guessan, the president of the Front populaire ivoirien (FPI); former first lady Simone Gbagbo; Assoa Adou (now with the PPA-CI, Laurent Gbagbo’s new party); Georges Armand Ouegnin; Mabri Toikeusse; and Mamadou Koulibaly, the president of the LIDER party, are also cited, with very specific accusations against the latter. “As one of the most virulent instigators of these acts of sedition and undermining of state authority, his criminal responsibility must be engaged,” the report says.

11 defendants in detention

Three investigating judges have been tasked with determining the degree of responsibility of each of the accused persons and whether or not to prosecute. A total of 233 people were arrested for their participation in the violence and 40 are still actively being sought. The vast majority of the defendants have been released on bail or placed under judicial supervision.

Only 11 defendants are currently in detention, including the alleged murderers of Toussaint N’Guessan – a young man who was beheaded in Daoukro – and Warrant Officer Seydou, who was shot dead on Bouaflé-Yamoussoukro road.

Could Bédié soon be tried at an Ivorian court? Richard Adou recalls that in a similar case, the former president was not protected by the 2005 law on the status of former presidents, presidents of institutions and ministers. “Article 54 of this law clearly states that all offences committed by these personalities during the election period are not covered by the special procedure,” the prosecutor says.

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