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Côte d’Ivoire: No reconciliation, No peace

By Nicholas Norbrook
Posted on Thursday, 8 November 2012 15:24

President Alassane Ouattara’s government initially got a grip on the security situation across the country following his arrival in power in 2011.

But key Gbagbo supporters have fled to neighbouring countries including Ghana and Liberia.

The situation has deteriorated, with the government yet to deliver on promised policies to reconcile the country, which has been divided since 2002.

The courts sentenced Bruno Dogbo Ble of Gbagbo’s republican guard to 15 years in prison for kidnapping and murder on 11 October, but no Ouattara allies have been taken before the courts.

A truth and reconciliation tribunal headed by former prime minister Charles Banny has yet to get off the ground.

The consequences of a lack of commitment to reconciliation may now be coming home to roost.

In early October, United Nations experts were working on a confidential report into Côte d’Ivoire and wider instability in West Africa.

Parts of the report were leaked, containing sensational claims that Gbagbo’s allies have been working with Mali’s former putschist Captain Amadou Sanogo and the Islamist rebels of Ansar Dine.

Given the mayhem in Northern Nigeria, and fears of links between Nigerian Islamists and Ansar Dine, this news comes as a sign of growing interconnections between militants in the region.

The report argues that they have the common goal of destabilising Mali and stopping the Economic Community of West African States, whose current president is Ouattara, from mounting a successful intervention in Mali.

Ouattara’s greatest concerns, however, are much closer to home.

Ouattara’s government closed the land border with Ghana for two weeks in September after security forces reported that Gbagbo sympathisers were using the country as a base for attacks.

Security analysts say that the most substantial threat is coming from the Liberian side of the border.

While the most recent raids have focused on eastern Côte d’Ivoire, Gbagbo supporters are planning a big push from Grand Gedeh and River Gee counties on the Ivorian border.

In late September, United Nations forces in Liberia expressed concern about “mercenary” activities based out of refugee camps in Grand Gedeh.

Country supervisor Peter Solo said in late September that the government believed that men were recruiting mercenaries in the county’s three camps.

The UN High Commissioner on Refugees plans to close the Duogee camp, the second largest in the county, in the coming months and large population movements could be used as cover for destabilising activities●

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